Grilled mackerel with tomato and fennel salad

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

As a kid I would catch bags full of mackerel on a lightweight trout rod. Back then I did it for sport more than for the pleasure of eating them fresh. Holiday-makers would cast half a dozen feathers with a heavy lead weight and catch them three or four at a time, but we would be quite content pulling them in on a tiny float and single hook, with a bit of a struggle, one at a time. They must have thought we were just kids having fun, and they were right. When mackerel are that fresh you struggle to keep them in the pan. The hot fat makes them curl up because of the rigor mortis. But freshly caught on the day, they make a memorable feast.

As a kid I would catch bags full of mackerel on a lightweight trout rod. Back then I did it for sport more than for the pleasure of eating them fresh. Holiday-makers would cast half a dozen feathers with a heavy lead weight and catch them three or four at a time, but we would be quite content pulling them in on a tiny float and single hook, with a bit of a struggle, one at a time. They must have thought we were just kids having fun, and they were right. When mackerel are that fresh you struggle to keep them in the pan. The hot fat makes them curl up because of the rigor mortis. But freshly caught on the day, they make a memorable feast.

4 fresh mackerel, weighing about 300-350g, head removed and fins trimmed
4 ripe red tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
1 small bulb of fennel or half a large one
1tbsp good quality white-wine vinegar, such as chardonnay
3-4tbsp of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the mackerel seasoning

1tsp celery salt ( click here for a recipie on how to make your own)
1/2tsp cayenne pepper
1/2tsp ground cumin
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp finely ground black pepper

Pre-heat a grill or barbecue. Score the mackerel a few times about 1/2cm deep vertically along the flesh. Mix the seasonings together, lightly brush with oil and scatter the seasoning over the mackerel. Grill the fish for about 7-8 minutes brushing with more oil every so often, turn the grill down if the skin begins to blister.

Meanwhile quarter the fennel and cut out the root. Slice it as thinly as you can, a Japanese mandolin is perfect for this job. Chop the furry fennel tops and put them in a bowl with the sliced fennel, tomatoes, vinegar and olive oil and season. Mix well and arrange on plates or a serving dish with the mackerel.

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