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Sometimes I take a sandwich to work just for a change, plus I usually end up saving a fair few pennies. My favourite is pink salmon, which is quite dear and saves fewer pennies obviously. So I was on the lookout for something fishy but different, and also reasonably priced.
I found it is ASDA where I seem to be finding a lot of my bargains of late. It had several other items close by which might well prove suitable if this prove adequate. So I popped it into the trolley and gave it no more thought.
Princes is the brand of pink salmon I most often choose, it's a brand I trust although at times their pricing is a bit erratic. Their products in general are of good to high quality and I've never really had any cause to complain. They've been around since I were a lad, and I recall their beef and chicken pastes with some fondness. One of the nearby products I mentioned, and I shall probably be trying that out in the near future, even if it is just for the memories.
So it was the Mackerel in hot chilli dressing that I chose, and I was most definitely looking forward to it. I'm partial to mackerel, and I'm pretty keen on chilli too so I'm hoping the combination is going to work. The 125g tin, which is ring, pull cost just £1 so I wasn't expecting miracles or large portions.
The front of the ring pull can states that it is high in omega 3 which I believe is a good thing. Well actually I'm not so sure I do believe, I'm pretty confused by all the claims in everything, but I have it on good authority it is good for you. When the ring pull is pulled and you start to roll it back you get the most powerful whiff off the fish, and a really good hint of the chilli. There appeared to be two decent sized portions of mackerel in the can, and I could clearly see little bits of chilli. The sauce, which was holding the chilli flavour, was a sort of light peach colour, which I found strange, don't know why I just did.
The plan was that the sandwich was for work, but I decided on plan B instead that being a nice little snack. Bread spread with Flora, just to increase this brilliant omega 3 thingy. The fish was firm a slightly flaky and was reasonably easy to spread onto the awaiting bread. After removing the first portion of the fish the chilli became more visible, and there was quite a lot of it. There wasn't a great deal of sauce, but enough to put a light spreading on the sandwich.
I struggled to get some little pieces of chilli from the tin but I did managed to get enough to sprinkle over the sauce already dripping over the fish onto the bread. Just writing this is bringing back some delicious memories, so please forgive me if I salivate on the paper.
Everything removed from the tin, I was eager to give this baby the tasting of its life. Instead of my usual cut I cut the sandwich diagonal to be a little posh, since the sandwich was already looking very palatable indeed. Coffee of tea I thought or perhaps a glass of milk...................tea it was.
It was my first bite when I discovered the depth of the chilli flavour, and although it was not a deep as I had anticipated, it did have a bit of a kick. The first bite obviously also contained some mackerel, and this I found to be pretty much perfect, soft and moist, with that hint of chilli going through it. Not as hot in the fish as off but still evident. This was one of the best sandwiches I had had in a while...............I was wishing I'd bought two tins glutton that I am. The first triangle gone and I was very pleased indeed with the result, my tongue slightly a tingle a swig of tea washed away some of the now hotter chilli.
The second triangle was equally as good as the first, and as my hands go up in the air I declare my recommendation for this super spicy fishy delight. It was just a super sandwich and one, which I look forward to having again, the only problem, is that it is going to be very hard to keep it until the next working day for my work. The suspense of knowing it is in the fridge is going to seriously test my resolve, those who know me know I will keep it till the next day, but I think they if they tasted this sandwich may also have their doubts.
With the exception of Tuna, up until a few years ago, tinned fish wasn't something I'd put on the top my shopping list. And I would never have thought of buying Princes Mackerel Fillets in Hot Chilli sauce. Then one winter evening whist lodging in a dark dank terrace in the outskirts of Durham, I was invited at midnight by the lodger himself to share in some Princes Mackerel fillets on toast. Although I wasn't that hungry, I wanted to be sociable... you know how it is, so I accepted the offer with a forced smile of gratitude. I was also weary of the lodger's inebriated condition and muscular stature and the last thing I wanted was to be thrown out into the dark streets of Durham - a treacherous place at the best of times. Even so, when I saw the oily runny red mess of fish bits being tipped out of the can, I must say that I wasn't too excited. And my mouth definitely wasn't watering in anticipation as my intoxicated friend began spreading the fillets onto half a slice of burnt bread. The one saving factor perhaps was the spicy smell of chilli sauce. It was only upon taking my first mouthful that I realised with pleasant surprise just what a tasty fish supper this was, not to mention a very filling one.
Tinned Princes Mackerel Fillets in Hot Chilli sauce soon became a regular addition to my shopping basket and initially I would always have them on toast. After a while though I found this to be a rather heavy meal as there is a lot of oil in the tin and if like me you've been brought up to always apply butter or margarine to your toast no matter what, then oily fish fillets on toast can turn out to be a bit sickly. It also makes a mess as you bite into the mackerel fillet toasted sandwich and the oil drips down your chin. Furthermore, if any the oily hot chilli sauce drips onto your white cotton garments, or worse still, onto your green suede shoes, then the stubborn stains can be a nightmare to remove. It was partially these reasons that led me to seek an alternative method of culinary preparation.
I always remembered my time in Thailand and Malaysia eating with the local poor folk who had holes in their shoes as well as holes in their bellies. The culinary method these locals used was to always pile their plate high with rice and add just one or two skimpy slices of pork or chicken on top. The only further addition to this simple but filling dish would be some very spicy sauce or hot thin curry. So it was following my eviction from the terraced lodgings in Durham and when I found myself going hungry for longer periods and when I had holes in both my Reebok trainers (see earlier review), that I decided to see if I could make a cheap meal by using a similar method. By simply boiling some long grain rice and adding the Princes Mackerel Fillets and sauce straight from the tin, I discovered that I could make a delicious tasty filling meal and one of the cheapest, healthiest and quickest to prepare. If you choose this method it helps to place the fillet pieces in a bowl first and break them up with a fork before mixing this into the hot cooked rice so that all the oil and chilli sauce are evenly spread. One tin doesn't look much but if you make plenty of rice it can easily stretch to two meals. I was delighted to discover that my little experiment worked well.
Take care when opening the tin. Although there is the convenient ring pull, make sure you hold the opening end away from you. It's best to do this over the sink as I find it almost impossible not to make a mess. If you want to add the fillets to bread or toast you might feel the need to empty away some of the oil but if you're making rice you should keep all the oil as it really does make a tasty sauce when combined with the rice.
Princes Mackerel Fillets come tinned in a range of different dressings including tomato, olive oil, mustard sauce, lightly salted water and sunflower oil. The hot chilli is by far my favourite. Make sure you pick up the right variety as the tins are very similar. Last week I picked up a tin of fillets in sunflower oil and didn't realise till I had pulled back the key ring ready to empty the contents on my already prepared steaming hot rice. I tried rescuing the dish by adding my own chilli and some other herbs but the result was hugely disappointing - mackerel in sunflower oil is rather yucky. I have also sampled the tomato version but it doesn't come close to the chilli sensation.
The one down side is that a 125g tin of Princes Mackerel Fillets are now astronomically priced at £1.40 in my local KS (I can never find them in my local Tesco). I seem to remember only 12 months or so ago that they were available for 75p a tin before stabilising at the 99p level for a while. What was once a cheap meal for under a quid is no longer the case. If the price increases much more I might have to start boiling the old leather from my Reeboks and adding that to a plate of the rice... with seasoning of course.