Mackerel is a great fish and so versatile to cook with - and it's cheap (or should I say good value?). Forget the dyed fillets you buy vacuum-packed in supermarkets; you can buy delicious properly smoked stuff from a good fishmonger or smokery. I like to buy smoked fish such as mackerel on the bone; the fish is always more moist that way.
Smoking your own fish at home can be a rewarding experience. There are all sorts of smokers on the market these days, from the really basic ones where you light up the wood chips in a box to the smoker of all smokers that I saw in the Orvis fishing tackle shop in Bristol (01225 331 471) the other day. It was the size of a small domestic fridge with enough racks inside to smoke several sides of salmon, hot or cold smoked.
2 large fresh mackerel weighing about 400-450g each, or 2 whole smoked mackerel
Coarsely ground black pepper
Oak or other good quality wood chips
For the salad
2-3 medium beetroots weighing about 400g
A piece of fresh horseradish weighing about 70-80g, peeled and grated
2tbsp extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
1tbsp cider vinegar
1tbsp chopped chives
2 lemons, halved
Season your mackerel well with salt and pepper and leave for about an hour. Prepare your smoker to hot smoke, according to the instructions, and smoke the fish for about 30 minutes and then leave to cool.
Meanwhile, boil the beetroots in their skins in boiling salted water for about an hour or until tender. Leave to cool, then remove the skin and cut the beetroot into rough 1cm dice. Mix the beetroot and horseradish together then add the vinegar, oil and season to taste. Then stir in the chives and season more if necessary. Remove the head from the mackerel (if it has been smoked with it on) and then chop the body in half through the bone. Serve the fish on plates with the beetroot and lemon and some good chunks of brown bread.Reuse content