Donal Skehan
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  • Egg coffee for breakfast in Hanoi! Sounds very strange but a combination of egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar, butter and laughing cow cheese is whisked until fluffy and thick and served with hot coffee! Incredible rich taste- like a liquid tiramisu! #DonalVietnam
  • Filmed at one of Hanoi's oldest and most famous restaurants today, Cha Ca La Vong, where they have been serving the same one dish for over 100 years- turmeric fish which is marinated for 12 hours with galangal and fish sauce then threaded onto bamboo skewers and chargrilled over hot coals- the fish pieces are then fried in shallot oil and served to the table on a hot plate where diners mix in dill and spring onions and serve over rice vermicelli noodles with peanuts, coriander, chilli and shrimp paste. Hugely popular here and I can see why! #DonalVietnam
  • Street food at the bustling market in Sapa- this lady was selling spicy pigs ear salad... #DonalVietnam
  • Morning market shopping in Sapa! On the way to Hanoi... #DonalVietnam
  • BBQ Pork with ginger, turmeric, mint and toasted sesame seeds... #DonalVietnam
  • Just can't get over the stunning scenery here! Not bad for a Tuesday! #DonalVietnam
  • On the streets of Sapa making apple wine with apples grown by the Hmong tribe... #DonalVietnam
  • Sad to say goodbye to our fantastic Red Dao hosts for the past three days... Heading to Hanoi tomorrow to focus on street food! #DonalVietnam
  • The incredible dry store at the top of a Red Dao tribe house- here they store corn, rice and pumpkins through the winter. The kitchen is just underneath so the heat and smoke helps to dry the produce out... #DonalVietnam
  • Brilliant few days filming with the Red Dao tribe just outside Sapa! #DonalVietnam with @jonnyrocksville @lenocks...
  • Best experience of the day- a traditional herbal bath with herbs picked from the mountain and steeped in boiling water! It is used to soak the muscles after a hard day in the rice paddies! Nothing like taking a bath with a big group of strangers watching! :) #DonalVietnam
  • This little girl is eating sticky rice cooked in a bamboo shoot! The rice is stuffed into the hollow shoot and sealed with a banana leaf, then boiled until tender... Then the whole rice filled bamboo shoot is grilled over an open fire- it results in a chewy sweet rice cylinder with the most incredible texture! Really special! #DonalVietnam
  • The colourful and detailed clothing the women of the Red Dao tribe wear can take up to a year to embroider by hand... #DonalVietnam
  • Incredible day spent learning from and cooking with the Red Dao tribe in North West Vietnam- their are 5 different tribes in this area and each has their own language and distinctive traditional clothing... #DonalVietnam
  • View from my breakfast table! Stayed in Sa Pa last night high in the mountains, 1500 meters above sea level... Off to spend the day with a local Red Dao family to learn more about their traditions... #DonalVietnam
  • Have just eaten from this fairly intimating platter of mystery meat! You choose what you want from pig tongue, liver, heart and blood sausage and it gets boiled up and served with a fiery hot dipping sauce with chilli, meat broth, fish sauce and spring onions. Also interesting they eat it with potato noodles rather than rice noodles, in broth and mint... Swallow the fear, get in there and eat like the locals do! #DonalVietnam
  • Chicken for sale at Bac Ha market- incredible experience, like nothing else, have whiplash from everything I have to look at! #DonalVietnam
  • Flower Hmong tribe at Bac Ha market this morning selling fresh vegetables and sugar cane... #DonalVietnam
  • Great meal this evening! Finally in Sapa after the longest bus ride ever today 8am-11.30pm! Up early tomorrow morning to film at Bac Ha Market... #DonalVietnam
  • BBQ pork and pumpkin greens at the most rocking little restaurant in Sapa! #DonalVietnam
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Mediterranean Mackerel with a Tomato Panzanella Salad

Mackerel instantly reminds me of eating outside in the summer at BBQ’s on Ireland’s Eye with my grandad and all my cousins. Fried or BBQ’d with meditteranean flavours it goes beautifully with an Italian panzanella salad, which is packed with great tastes and textures.

Serves 4
4 Mackerel Fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 loaf of ciabatta bread, torn into rough pieces
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
150g of sunblush tomatoes
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
A good handful of basil, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200oC.

Toss the bread chunks in a roasting tray with a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and then place in the oven until toasted and golden for about 8 minutes.  Give them a good toss half way through.  Remove from the oven and feed with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

In a large bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and garlic and then add in the onion, cherry tomatoes, sunblush tomatoes, toasted bread and toss until completely coated.  Leave to soak up the dressing while you get on with the fish.

Place the mackerel on a plate and drizzle with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and a little of the dried oregano.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat and then place the mackerel flesh side down for 2-3 minutes, then turn over squeeze over lemon juice and cook for further 2-3 minutes.

Serve straight away alongside the panzanella salad.


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Simple Mackerel Fillets with Chilli, Garlic and Lemon

I grew up on mackerel! It was and still is one of the easiest fish to catch just off Howth head. I have some of the most amazing childhood memories of sunny mackerel filled summers with my granddad Do on his boat, where my cousins and I would be busy racing to pull in rods with heavy lines, fish on each hook, while my granddad would gut them and fillet them like the pro he was, belly laughing at the fact that we were all to squeamish to take them off the lines ourselves. For me, mackerel dishes always have to be simple with really fresh flavours, and I love this quick and simple lunch which has a great kick of heat thanks to the chilli. People get a bit worried when it comes to cooking fish, but go to the fishmongers and ask them to do all the hard work and you will be left really lovely fillets of fish which are no more complicated to cook than pan frying a chicken breast!

Serves 4
4-6 mackerel fillets
2 red chillies, finely chopped with the seeds removed
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
A good drizzle of olive oil
A good pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper

Place the mackerel fillets on a large plate and drizzle with olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice.  Don’t use all the lemon juice here, as it’s nice to give the fish an extra squeeze of lemon while it cooks and then at the end to serve.

Sprinkle over the chilli and garlic and gently rub into the fish on both sides, turning to coat in the lemon and olive oil.

Season the fillets with sea salt and black pepper and cook on a hot, non stick griddle pan, over a high heat, for 2-3 minutes either side, depending on their size or until they are cooked through.  Halfway through the cooking time, give them another splash of lemon juice.

Serve the mackerel fillets with a spicy tomato salsa or a fresh side salad for a really light and healthy lunch!

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BBQ Mackerel with lemon and Smoked Sea Salt

There are so many things that you can do with fish on a barbecue, but sometimes its nice to keep things simple, a few herbs, maybe some garlic butter or just plain lemon and salt will bring the natural flavours alive. If you are freezing mackerel, freeze the same day you get it, make sure to use within 3 months, and defrost in the fridge. You may notice a change in the texture of the fish but it shouldn’t be too significant.

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