grilled mackerel

Mackerel sits beautifully in the group of oily fish we’re encouraged to eat on a weekly basis to boost our omega intake and keep our brain cells ticking nicely. You’ll find it fresh on the fish counter, smoked in the supermarket refrigerators and squished into tins perfect for a quick snack on toast.

A cheap fish to buy fresh, it’s now also appearing increasingly frequently on restaurant menus. Naturally, chefs tart it up to put a whole new spin on the fish’s flavours. But how do we recreate some of these dishes at home?

Nick Galer on mackerel

I like it pickled (soused) as its rich enough to balance with the acidity. Smoked mackerel is lovely grilled or turned into a pate, by adding a few capers, cornichons, shallots and herbs. And I also like mackerel tartar, so we would brine it for 2 hours, then dice it and mix with oil, herbs and lemon zest. Difficult to plump for one particular route, but my favourite mackerel dish is probably a nice smoked mackerel pate with some sourdough toast.”

Nick’s mackerel tips and tricks

  • soused – soused is an old fashioned word meaning preserving by way of pickling. As an accompaniment to soused mackerel choose anything earthy to create a balance of flavour. Coleslaw, or german slaw is nice.
  • grilled – you can grill mackerel whole or filleted. Under a powerful grill a whole fish would probably take about 6-8 minutes with a nice amount of oil on the skin. Obviously reduce the cooking time for fillets (probably only 4-5 minutes) and open the windows – it’s one of the more smelly fish to cook at home!
  • with a spice or chilli – mackerel is very oily and has quite firm flesh, which is why it stands up to lots of different flavours from a chilli based sauce to something smokey like paprika.

Wine matching tip from Mary

To combat the oiliness of the fish try a Muscadet – it’s a popular fish accompaniment that’s light on the palate and perfect for warm summer days. Alternatively, opt for a dry Reisling – typically fruitier, despite being dry, it will cut through the big flavours of the mackerel and any spicy accompaniments.

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