Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Lemon Baked Mackerel

Andrew and his Godson, Kodai, went out fishing on the weekend and came back with a sizable haul of mackerel - I kept four and sent Kodai home to his mum with eleven! sorry......Kodai's Mum.... but you can have too much of a good thing .......

We often catch mackerel around this part of the coast, along with bass, and I have come up with a number of simple ways to deal with them  -  we are usually away from home and are camping or sailing at the time so simple is important!

Here are two of my favourite ways of preparing & cooking mackerel - they are simple enough that I have done this for beach barbecues and also in the little camping oven on the boat.

First off you will need to clean & gut your mackerel. I like to keep the heads on if I'm baking or grilling them, Just give the fish a quick rinse off and then make a slit along the belly from just passed the gills to the start of the tail. All the insides are to be discarded so give it all a quick pull and it should come out in one piece. Give the insides a quick rinse out and check that the cavity is clean. Now if you don't want to be bothered with this all fishmongers will clean a fish for you so just ask......However, if you've caught the fish yourself I'm assuming that you are not squeamish and can get on with it!

Once your mackerel is clean you can be really simple and just put it on the barbecue or beach fire and just cook it through for a few minutes - this is actually one of the nicest ways of eating extremely fresh mackerel the flavour is superb. I remember when my nephews were little the youngest one, Jason, was sat on the deck of our boat fishing (as he did everyday of that holiday - actually would have 24/7 if we'd let him!) and he caught a mackerel - great excitement & I was summoned to gut and cook - before Jason had finished sorting out the rod and was ready to start fishing again a cooked mackerel arrived for him to eat - he could not believe that a - it was so easy & quick to cook and b - how good just simple pan fried fish can taste! He later became a chef I like to think that this experience influenced his taste buds......good fresh food can not be beat!

Anyway back to my recipes.......first up lemon baked mackerel

to serve 2

2 large mackerel
6 fresh bay leaves
6 slices lemon
olive oil
salt & pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 200C/Gas 6

Lay your fish on a baking tray and make 3 deep slices into the flesh. Insert a bay leaf into each slice and then place 3 slice of lemon, per fish, into the cavity. Give all a good slug of olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Pop in the oven and bake for around 12 to 15 minutes. A good way to test if it's done is just to tug the top dorsal fin - if it comes away easily it's good to go if not just pop it back in for a little longer.

Serve with either a simple salad and new potatoes or just with a spicy tomato chutney and a little bread & butter - heaven

Option two is a recipe I devised for those extra mackerel you don't want to waste but done want to eat there and then....

As many mackerel as you want just increase the quantities below to suit
1 lemon cut in rings
1 onion cut into rings
8 bay leaves
some fennel flowers or fennel leaves
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas 6

Place the onion, lemon bay and fennel on to a baking tray - spread it out evenly so the fish gets a flavour from each

Prepare your mackerel as described earlier but remove the head and tail as well. Place the mackerel on a board top side up and gently put pressure on the back bone to splay the fish out......

Place on the baking tray,add some olive oil and season with the salt & pepper (be generous with the pepper)

Pop in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes

One it's done leave to cool on the tray and then remove everything and place in an air tight container. Pop in the fridge and it will keep for a couple of days - you can eat it with a salad for a simple lunch or make it into fish cakes. It makes an excellent starter with a little spicy tomato pickle or horseradish sauce.

This dish also freezes really well but use it with in two months as the fish oils always seem to go a bit yucky if you keep them frozen for too long.

The colours on the mackerel skin were absolutely stunning I just had to take some close up picture....

Have a great Wednesday