Mackerel is delicious in every shape or form – an inexpensive, healthy fish that packs a real punch of flavour. A great way to elevate this humble species to restaurant-quality is to prepare it beautifully. Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to fillet a mackerel to perfection.
1. With the knife running parallel to the curve of the gills, make an incision behind the pectoral fin of the mackerel, until the knife hits the backbone
2. Turn over and repeat on the other side
3. Turn the fish onto its belly and cut down through the backbone, removing the head
4. Run the knife down the side of the backbone, cutting as close to it as possible
5. Using sweeping motions, cut the fillet away, keeping as close to the backbone as possible and holding the knife parallel to the board
6. Set the fillet aside and turn over the fish. Cut through the skin next to the backbone to act as a guide
7. As you did before, cut the fillet away from the backbone, keeping the knife parallel to the board
8. Using tweezers, carefully remove the pin-bones from the middle of the fillets
9. Trim the fillet of any excess skin and wash gently with cold water. Pat dry. The mackerel is now ready to be used
Grilled mackerel with beetroot and new potato salad by Monica Shaw
Monica Shaw’s colourful grilled mackerel recipe offers a slice of summer, pairing the fish with a glorious salad made from new potatoes and sweet, earthy beetroot. The beautifully mild nuttiness of the potatoes makes an ideal salad, with plenty of zingy additions to cut through the richness of the mackerel.
6 mackerel fillets, or more if desired
Beetroot and new potato salad
350g of new potatoes
2 large beetroots
1 celery stick, diced
½ red onion, minced
2 eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
2tbsp of chives, minced
2tbsp of sherry vinegar
2tsp Dijon mustard
60ml of olive oil
6ml of Greek yoghurt
Steam the potatoes and beetroot for 15-30 minutes. Time will vary depending on the size of your beetroot and potatoes, so check them regularly and remove when a knife or skewer can easily be driven through them. When ready, remove from the heat.
When cool enough to handle, peel the beetroot (you can leave the skins of the potatoes on) then chop the beetroot and potatoes into small pieces.
Combine the potato and beetroot in a bowl with the celery, onion, hard-boiled eggs and chives. To make the dressing, simply whisk together the vinegar, mustard, olive oil and yoghurt. Toss the dressing with the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Lightly oil the mackerel and season with salt and pepper. Grill on an outdoor barbecue or griddle pan skin-side down until the skin is nicely charred and the fish is fully cooked (this shouldn’t take long). Serve the mackerel on a bed of salad leaves with a helping of the potato and beetroot salad.
Mackerel and brown rice kedgeree by Rachel Walker
Rachel’s healthy and nutritious mackerel and brown rice kedgeree is the perfect thing to have if you are counting calories but still wanting a filling and highly satisfying meal.
Some people are stoic against hunger pangs. I’m not one of them. So when I think about eating healthily I don’t look for ways of depriving myself, but for ways of filling myself up in a nutritious and efficient fashion.
High-satiety foods are a great place to start. They’re the foods which ‘satiate the appetite’ and are proven to give you a feeling of fullness over others – fish and eggs and brown rice are all good examples. I know I’m not the only one who still has space for a cheeseburger after a portion of low-satiety chips. But I’m less likely to hunker after a burger after a portion of high-satiety brown rice.
Another cunning tactic is to introduce big flavours through spices. A teaspoon of turmeric powder or a teaspoon of chilli powder brings so much flavour and excitement to a dish at the price of a mere 8 calories, while shop-bought sauces are often loaded with the exact things most diets instruct you to avoid.
This dish ticks both boxes, as it includes fish, eggs, brown rice and spices. A kedgeree is often thought of as breakfast here in the UK, but add a few greens (kale in this case), ramp up the spiciness and it makes a substantial main course. Lots of kedgeree recipes use cold smoked haddock – which is delicious – but hot smoked mackerel doesn’t even require any additional cooking, removing a step from the recipe. It’s a quick dish, it’s easy, it’s filling ... but most importantly it’s delicious.
50g of brown rice, quick-cook
½ onion, sliced
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp chilli powder
50ml of boiling water
25g of kale
50g of mackerel, smoked
1 egg, boiled
Start to cook the brown rice according to the instructions on the pack. After five minutes, heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan, and cook the sliced onion at a low heat for 6-8 minutes. You want it to turn soft and clear, rather than browning it. Start boiling an egg in a small saucepan, and leave for 7 minutes.
Increase the heat, and add the mustard seeds to the frying pan. When they start to pop, add the chilli powder and turmeric. Stir for a minute or so to make sure the onions are coated in all of the spices. Add 50ml of boiling water to the pan along with the kale leaves, so they steam quickly in the spiced water.
Remove the skin from the smoked mackerel and tear up the mackerel into bite sized chunks. Put into the pan along with the cooked brown rice, and stir until any water has evaporated. Serve in a shallow bowl with a halved or quartered boiled egg.
Mackerel pâté by Solange Berchemin
Solange Berchemin gives us a simple, yet delicious recipe for mackerel pâté. The secret? Plenty of pepper. Mackerel pâté is inconspicuous and extremely versatile. Ready in 10 minutes, it is the perfect lunch or light dinner; it contains as much omega-3 oils as two portions of fish. Mackerel doesn’t have a good reputation, it’s often accused of being too... fishy – sure the smell can be rather powerful. It’s the reason why, for this recipe, I chose canned mackerel rather than the freshly smoked kind.
1 tin of mackerel, small, drained
1tbsp of mayonnaise, (can be replaced by sour cream, cream cheese, crème fraîche)
1 pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
dill, or other fresh herb of your choice, chopped
Place everything in a bowl and mash with a fork until you reach your desired consistency.
Taste for seasoning, you may want to add a little more pepper to taste. Serve with a wedge of lemon, on toast or in a sandwich, on spoons or crackers as you like. It will keep for a few days in a sealed jar or container in the fridge.
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