spaghetti with smoked mackerel lemon and chilli

Spaghetti is definitely the most loved pasta type in Italy and I bet it is in the rest of the world too. There’s nothing more Italian than a plate of spaghetti al pomodoro prepared with extra virgin olive oil, onion and/or garlic, good tomatoes and basil or oregano. It’s something every Italian eats at least a couple of times a week, if not more often, and it represents THE perfect comfort food for us Italiani both home and abroad.

Though I deeply love (and teach!) my Italian classics, there’s another thing I adore in my kitchen: a good fusion dish. So what about spaghetti with Dutch smoked mackerel? I tried it and I’m totally convinced about this recipe that brings together flavours typical of my fatherland and of the country I choose as my new home many years ago.

I’m regularly in beautiful Enkhuizen, a lovely town in the West-Friesland region of the Netherlands also known for its great smoked fish, and I’ve become an avid eater of this type of mackerel for its buttery texture and very pleasant smoky aroma. If you’ve never tried it, I hope this recipe makes you want to give it a go. In combination with salty capers, fiery chillies and tangy lemon it’s totally delicious.
You can also use capers in vinegar but their acidity could be a little overwhelming since there’s already the pungent note given by the lemon juice that balances the flavours perfectly. With the salted ones just make sure you rinse them really well several times to avoid excessive saltiness.

WINE TIP: drink with a glass of good Vernaccia from Tuscany of Liguria.

spaghetti with smoked mackerel lemon and chilli

Spaghetti con sgombro affumicato, limone e peperoncino

Serves 2

150 gr. spaghetti
e.v. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 handful of salted capers
1 medium-sized chilli pepper
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
100 gr. smoked mackerel
1 small organic lemon
sea salt

Rinse the capers several times in lukewarm water to eliminate the excess salt (you can leave them to soak for a while after rinsing them).

Fill a large pot with water, put the lid on and bring to a boil over a high heat.

Once the water is boiling add a good quantity of salt (10 gr. per 100 gr. of pasta) and the spaghetti, stirring gently from time to time until the water starts to boil again.

In the meantime, chop the parsley leaves quite finely (keep a few whole ones for garnishing).

Flake the mackerel coarsely making sure you remove any bones.

Grate the rind of half the lemon and keep aside.

Peel and slice the garlic cloves and gently fry them in 6-7 tablespoons of olive oil together with the sliced chilli until golden and soft (this will take just a couple of minutes). Add the parsley and keep on the flame for a couple more minutes.

Add the capers and the flaked mackerel and remove from the flame. Add the lemon rind and the juice of half the lemon.

Drain the spaghetti and toss with the sauce directly in the pan.

Serve immediately with a slice of lemon and a few parsley leaves to garnish.