Catch of the Day, Mackerel


Cooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will serve up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants. It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.

Maureen and I well, we just like fish and shellfish for its handiness, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!

Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;

White Sea Fish

  • White Fish, including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish
  • White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
  • Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
  • The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
  • With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
  • Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.

Oil Rich Fish

  • Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.
  • Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
  • Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Fresh Water Fish

Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char

Then there are; Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)

Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish

You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.

Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.

We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins; minerals, and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.

However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of their to-do list.

Anyway, enough of all that let’s get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;

Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Best UK Season Is; May, June, July, August, September, October. With its shining, silver belly, and sparkling blue-grey stripes, the mackerel is a remarkable fish, almost flamboyant.

A great summertime favourite in Devon and Cornwall, Tony the head barman at the Bowd Inn used to go beach casting in Sidmouth in his time off and brought freshly caught mackerel back almost daily, Mmm Happy days.

Did you know that the mackerel is Britain’s only bona fide tropical inshore species, a close relative of the tuna so why not use it instead of Tuna for some of your recipes?

Mackerel isn’t a daintily flavoured fish and its intensity doesn’t always offer itself well to a straightforward ‘lemon and herbs’ pairing. Nonetheless given the right care, it is an incredibly moist, aromatic fish that makes a reasonably priced and very nourishing meal.

The mackerel is sea fish that swims in extremely great shoals, the species “Scomber scombrus” is a common fish in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean waters, a number of other varieties are found in the Indo-Pacific and are an essential food source in Thailand and the Philippines.

Mackerel has been a dependably popular fish throughout European history the Romans used mackerel to make garum, a fermented fish sauce similar to those indispensable to Thai and Vietnamese cooking today.

Records show that the mackerel has been extensively consumed in the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, according to his diary; Samuel Pepys breakfasted on mackerel on 30th May 1660 and in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) features the recipe Fennel Sauce for Mackerel.

Health professionals advocate eating at least one serving of oily fish, such as mackerel, each week, Mackerel is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin B12.

I myself believe that Mackerel is a frequently under valued fish, you know we are very lucky in this country to be surrounded by the sea, and have access to a truly plentiful supply of this species and with careful management of this fishery there’s no reason this shouldn’t keep on being so.
In fact thousands of tonnes of Mackerel are landed in British ports every year and what makes it even better to know is that Mackerel is fished in a controlled and sustainable way.
Plus and this is a big plus it’s flavoursome, inexpensive and has immense health benefits (rich in Omega 3s), just what the doctor ordered really!

Buying Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Look for mackerel with glossy bodies and brilliant eyes. They should have a firm feeling and be rigid; fresh mackerel won’t droop if held horizontally by the head, the freshest fish are liable to be found in good fishmongers or markets, subsequent to buying your mackerel be sure to keep it cool until you get home, when shopping for fish fresh or frozen we always use an insulated bag with 2 or 3 of those ice inserts.

Storing Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Oily fish go off faster than white fish and mackerel is best eaten on the day you buy it or if kept chilled the day after, you can also freeze it very successfully. Put your fish and/or shellfish in the fridge as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.

When you bring it back from the fishmonger, unwrap, and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container. Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, store fresh seafood no longer than two days before use, for best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its fresh state.

If it’s necessary to freeze the fish, freeze it quickly and use it as soon as possible.

Preparing and Cooking Catch of the Day, Mackerel

  • Ask your fishmonger to gut the fish, and then when you have got it back home wash under cold running water and pat dry before cooking.
  • Grilling (Broiling), Baking, Barbecuing, or Pan Frying are superb cooking methods we like ours simply Baked or Pan-Fried.
  • To check if your Mackerel is cooked, just slit the fish at it’s thickest part with a small knife, the flesh should appear just opaque but still moist.
  • Owing to mackerel’s richness, cream or butter based sauces are best avoided.
  • Spices work well, as does matching with something sharp, Gooseberry or Rhubarb sauces are traditional accompaniments, or you could try cooking it with other citrus flavours such as grapefruit or oranges.

Try my recipe and Others on MyDish

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