My Favourite Flavour. By Lee Skeet

Barbecued Mackerel with cucumber and seaweed (photo: Sam King/Ffion Morgan)
Barbecued Mackerel with cucumber and seaweed (photo: Sam King/Ffion Morgan)

I always prefer simplicity in cooking.  I have spent many years adding ingredients to dishes, and using different cooking techniques that were ultimately unnecessary. I don’t know if it was to mask lack of confidence, lack of experience or just a lack of skill. I look back at dishes I have done in the past and I feel embarrassed. Although I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

The first thing that made me think more about what I was doing was something Marcus Wareing said while I was working for him. “There is nothing in the world you can do to a strawberry, which will make it taste better than a strawberry.” It was long time ago, but it is a sentence I will never ever forget. Because while I and most chefs I knew were messing around making strawberry foams, jellies, meringues and everything else, nothing would ever beat the taste of that fresh, perfectly ripe fruit bursting flavour when you ate it. And I took note.

Since I left other people’s kitchens and began running my own pop-ups, cooking what I think is my own style of food, I find myself simplifying and refining dishes more and more. Maybe my confidence has grown now when I am cooking what I want to, but I do feel like if I source a mackerel that is in rigor mortis and of fantastic quality, and I treat it with incredible care whilst preparing it, then I should have confidence in my own cooking to simply barbecue it and serve it with one or two accompaniments. I could sit there all day thinking of twenty things to add to a dish to show off my range of techniques, but that really doesn’t excite me. What excites me is learning to cook an ingredient perfectly and trying to achieve the confidence to say “Here is my dish. Judge me on my cooking skill and flavour, not on how many textures of beetroot I can think of”.

My favourite flavour is seafood cooked simply over an open fire. Whether is it a whole barbecued squid on a street corner in Cambodia, or a fresh caught mackerel on the beach in Devon.  As long as seafood is handled with care, cooked with skill, and served simply, nothing will ever beat that for me.

Lee Skeet, United Kingdom

Lee Skeet. (photo: Sam King/Ffi Morgan)
Lee Skeet. (photo: Sam King/Ffi Morgan)

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