Going Potty For Mackerel

It's just coming up to mackerel season (June through to October) and this certainly brings a smile to my face. They are such a beautiful looking fish, with sparkling silvery blue tiger like stripes and their size isn't daunting if you have to gut them. If ever there was a recession busting fish it's name is mackerel! I have to talk about the environmental and health side of these fishies too.....there are a lot of problems in the world with food consumption- too many people and not enough fish (where's Jesus when we need him?!) and even the farmed fish, which seem like a solution of sorts, actually have more of an impact on regular fish stocks, because they are fed lots and lots of regular fishies. Lets make informed choices http://www.fishonline.org/fish-advice <----this website has an easy to use guide and a rating system for sustainability. Just click on the fish in question and they'll give you lots of information, such as the method by which they are caught and the levels of stock. Fish with a 1 or 2 rating are good to go but 3,4,5 should be left alone. In terms of pollution levels a good rule of thumb is the smaller the fish the better -so mackerel is a winner here, not to mention the good oils it contains to keep the ol' grey matter in good shape.

Mackerel is quite a meaty fish and you can team it with strong flavours such as horseradish and capers. Try one on the bbq with a nice potato salad to which you've added a dollop of horseradish sauce -nom nom! Or cook them under the grill, crisping the skin, serve with spuds roasted in the oven with quartered lemons and capers...don't forget to scoop out the cooked lemon flesh....MMnnn! Anyway, I had an urge to pot some up and spread it on some crunchy toast. Potting things is a pre-fridge method of conserving perishables and lordy lord it makes things really flippin tasty too.....nothing of course to do with the amount of butter involved!

This is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from The Guardian newspaper.
  • Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4. 
  • Take 4 mackerel put in a lightly oiled roasting dish. Insert a squashed clove of garlic and a bay leaf inside each fish. Season with pepper and a little salt, cook for 12-15 mins turning once halfway through.
  • To see if it's cooked through, gently lift some flesh away from the bone -it should come away easily.
  • After the fish have cooled, gently flake them into a bowl, set one of the cloves aside. Add 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1 tbsp parsley chopped, 1 tbsp thyme and 1 tsp ground mace.

Next to make clarified butter to seal the deal;
  • Melt 250g of butter in a pan on a low heat. Add your reserved garlic clove chopped finely. Once melted let the butter settle off the heat and it will separate into two layers. The milks solids will sink and form a whitish layer at the bottom and the rest will form a golden layer on top.
  • Pour 2/3 of the golden butter on to your flaked fish and gently toss. Also add the juice of half a lemon.
  • Place into a large kilner jar or individual ramekins and cover with a layer of the liquid gold butter. Allow to cool and place in fridge, covering the ramekins with cling film. Use ramekins within two days and jars within a week.
The loaves and the fishes.