Over the years, Chef Joan Roca has served as a mentor and inspirational figure for countless young chefs around the globe. The restaurant he runs with his brothers, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, was voted No.1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013 and 2015. This year, he still placed remarkably high at number three in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

But accolades aside, the humility with which Roca cooks his astonishing food is quite extraordinary. Talking at the Estrella Damm Gastronomy Congress in Melbourne ahead of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, he spoke of how he and his family lived above El Celler De Can Roca, and how he and his staff still eat every day at his parents’ humble and long-running bar and eatery down the road from his restaurant, called Can Roca, to remind himself and his staff of their beginnings.

Here, Roca shares with us a zesty, flavoursome fish recipe from his incredible restaurant back home in Girona. Cooks take note: this is a challenging recipe, but the results will be worth it!

Ingredients and method

  1. Marinated mackerel
  2. Mackerel sauce with white wine
  3. Sauce of Mackerel
  4. Anchovies and black olive puree
  5. Garlic oil
  6. Tomato puree
  7. Parsley emulsion
  8. Fried capers

For the Bottarga
50g of bottarga

Cut the bottarga into thin sheets of 1cmx0.5cm and a thickness of 2 mm. Reserve

1. For the Marinated Mackerel
4 mackerel fillets
500g of salt
500g of sugar

Mix the salt and sugar. Remove the bones form the mackerels. Cover the boneless mackerel fillets in the salt and sugar mixture and leave for 45 minutes. Remove, rinse and dry the fillets thoroughly. Cut them into 6 pieces of 0.5cm each and reserve.

2. For the Mackerel Sauce with White Wine
375g of mackerel
250g of water
7g of garlic
65g of White wine
50g of virgin olive oil
1.5g of agar

Fillet the mackerel and reserve the bone. In a frying pan, brown the garlic and reserve. Pan roast the mackerel fillets in the same pan. Add garlic and deglaze with white wine, reduce by half and add water. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and leave the sauce to cool down. Once cold, separate the fat from the broth by skimming the liquid, and reserve both separately.

Bring the mackerel broth and the agar to boil, then leave to cool. When cool, with the help of a hand blender, blend the mixture until it forms a gel texture, and emulsify with the mackerel fat by slowly adding it to the mixture while blending. Reserve.

3. Sauce of mackerel
150g of the reserved mackerel fishbone
150g of water
0.3g of xanthan gum
10g of virgin olive oil

In a saucepan, bring the water to 80ºC. Add the mackerel fishbone, cover and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve.

With the help of blender, blend the infusion together with xanthan gum for a few minutes, then gradually emulsify with extra virgin olive oil by slowly adding the oil to the mixture while blending.

4. Anchovies and black olive puree
20g of black olive puree
75g of anchovies

Blend ingredients together, then strain. Reserve.

5. Garlic oil
150g olive oil
30g garlic, crushed

Mix garlic with olive oil, and let it marinate for two hours. Reserve.

6. Tomato puree
500g ripe tomatoes
1 garlic clove
10g of virgin olive oil

Blanch and peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and set aside for assembly. Cut the flesh into small cubes. Peel and chop the garlic. In a saucepan with olive oil, brown the garlic, add the tomatoes and cook slowly. When well confit, season with salt. Reserve.

7. Parsley emulsion
100g of parsley
50g water (for cooking the parsley)
50g of water
0.2 g of xanthan gum
30g of virgin olive oil

Blanch the parsley and cool it down. Shred parsley and return to the water it was cooked in, along with the extra water. Strain. Emulsify the parsley water by blending it with the xanthan gum and extra virgin olive oil. Add salt. Reserve.

8. Fried capers
100g of capers
1L sunflower oil, for deep-frying

Drain the capers and deep fry in sunflower oil at 160°C, until they open like a flower. Reserve.


Lemon zest
Basil sprouts
Purple basil sprouts

Spread the plate with the mackerel sauce with white wine; in the center of the plate, place a tear of olive and anchovy puree with a little of the lemon zest.

On top of this, layer the pieces of mackerel with the bottarga in between them. Place a few drops of raw garlic oil and put three large drops of the parsley emulsion of parsley and three large drops of the tomato puree on the plate. Chop the chilli and place over the fillets. Finish with the basil sprouts, the purple basil sprouts and the sauce of mackerel.

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