It’s tasty, sustainable and one of my favourite fishes
Benefits of mackerel
I’m very partial to mackerel. People sometimes turn their noses up at it because it’s a cheap fish, but I think it’s a bargain. Not only is it a tasty fish, it’s an oily fish – which we’re meant to be eating more of. It is also one of the more sustainable fish on offer in the supermarket.
When cooking mackerel, the secret is only to buy it when it’s really fresh. You want nice stiff fish with good, bright eyes, not dull and sunken. There should be a ‘sheen’ to the skin and a scent of the sea, not a strong ‘fishy’ smell. If you have a good fishmonger nearby, then you’re lucky. Make sure you support them by shopping there for your fish.
Convenience of mackerel
If you’re feeling lazy, then the smoked mackerel fillets sold in supermarkets make a very easy and delicious meal. Enjoy them with a green salad or just with brown bread and butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.
I like to serve mackerel with something that cuts through its richness. A tangy Salsa Verde, for example, is a great combination. Gooseberry sauce is another old-fashioned English classic that is traditionally served with mackerel; again the sourness of the gooseberries is a good contrast.
Mackerel also lends itself to being cooked Chinese-style with fresh root ginger; try it instead of sea bass in this recipe.
Mackerel as an alternative ingredient
You can also make a version of the classic French dish: Salad Nicoise. Substitute tuna fish for smoked mackerel and serve it on a bed of boiled new potatoes, blanched green beans and tomatoes. Top it with a quartered hard-boiled egg and black olives. Then just drizzle with a little vinaigrette and there you have a ‘Mackerel Nicoise’.