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Mackerel deserves greater recognition than it gets, inexpensive, readily available and easy to cook it not only eats very well on its own but also takes on strong, sharp flavours to great effect.


Mackerel is easily identifiable by its torpedo-like shape and dark stripes over a silver belly. Usually sold whole, they need little preparation. Taking a sharp knife remove the head then cut through the belly from the head towards the tail, remove the entrails with your fingers (they pull away easily) Wash the fish inside and out and trim the fins with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors.

How you deal with the fish next depends on the recipe; they can be filleted for grilling and pan-frying, left whole for stuffing and baking or slashes made through the flesh ready for seasoning to be rubbed into it prior to baking or grilling.

Mackerel are particularly good (and plentiful) during the summer months and this would explain the traditional English method of serving the fish with gooseberry sauce. I find freshly cooked or pickled beetroot and a sharp homemade horseradish cream are excellent with mackerel, especially when they have been cured in a sweet vinegar. Try cooking the fillets skin side down until the skin is very crisp and serve it with a warm potato salad and a dollop of sharp mustard. For spice lovers, slash the skin on both sides and rub a fresh Indian masala paste into the cuts, bake in a hot oven and serve with a salad of ripe summer tomatoes, fresh coriander and lime juice.


Content and picture Miles Collins