Every time I cook mackerel I wonder why I don’t cook it more often. I love the deep oiliness of this fish and the way you can throw a decent amount of flavour at it and it takes it. In season right now I intend to eat plenty more of it.
I also love how cheap it is.
Devilled mackerel is perfect – curry undertones make it perfect for a mid-week meal when you fancy something with a bit of a kick. I use cider vinegar here rather than red wine vinegar – I want the fruitiness of the apple to go with the spice mix and mackerel.
The salad works well – light, fresh and mixes well with the spiced fish oil as you get into the meal.
This is what you’ll need:
- 1 mackerel per person (the spice mix should be enough for 3 – 4)
- 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon of English mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon coriander – ground
- A thumb-sized piece of butter
- Vegetable oil
- A bunch of fresh mint
- 1 Lemon
- Salt & pepper.
Preheat your oven to 220c.
Heat the butter in a pan until it starts to bubble – add the spices. Fry them a little. I love the darker flavour spices take on when you fry them – they seem to permeate through the meal more giving it a deepness you wont get without cooking them. Don’t overdo it though – 30 seconds should do it.
Spoon the spiced butter mix into a bowl and add the cider vinegar. Add a twist of salt and pepper.
If you’re lucky enough to have caught your own mackerel, you’ll need to gut them first. Cut off the fins – scissors will do for this. Cut just behind the gills to remove the head and cut just at the end of the tail. You can serve it whole if you like – whatever suits you.
Cut into the flesh at 1.5 cm intervals – don’t go too deep. Pinch the flesh and run the knife over it – let the blade do the work.
Rub the spice mix into the fish making sure you push it into the cuts.
Now heat a pan that you can also put into the oven onto the hob. Heat a tablespoon of oil until it’s really hot – vegetable oil will achieve the temperature you need for this. About 1 minute each side should do it. The hot oil will sear the flesh and turn it black in parts – this if fine, the skin will be beautiful.
The pan goes into the hot oven for 5-6 minutes.
While the fish is cooking you can make the salad – finely slice tomatoes and red onion (keep the red onion thinly sliced otherwise it can overpower). Take a few of the mint leaves and stack them on top of each other. Cut across the mint into a thin chiffonade. Arrange the tomato, onion and mint on a plate. Dress with a squeeze of lemon juice, maybe a few drops of olive oil and a twist of pepper.
Plate the fish and away you go.
You’ll be really happy you tried this.
By John Loydall