Do I need to cook 'smoked mackerel' b4 using in s a recipe?

  • Cookaholic on Monday, 8th June 2009

    Do I need to cook 'smoked mackerel' b4 using in s a recipe?

    The packet - Tesco Finest Smoked Mackerel - says to cook for 35mins! But I thought all smoked mackerels were pre-cooked so could just be flaked into a salad/kedgeree/etc. and could only if required be warmed up for 2mins just to heat up the fish?

    I'd hate to serve up raw fish!

    I'm suppposed to be cooking it tonight for evening meal, so all advice would be greatly appreciated!



  • Message 2. Posted by Organoleptic Icon on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    Read instructions again! - does it not also say it is ready to serve cold? Or to warm for 35 mins? Though that sounds far too long to warm up smoked mackerel. I jusr grill for a few mins!

  • Message 3. Posted by Organoleptic Icon on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    Are you sure it does not say microwave for 3.5 minutes? Three-and-a half not thirty five?

  • Message 4. Posted by Stokey Sue on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    Can you not just remove a flake and cautiously taste it?

    If it flakes well and tastes cooked I'd ignore the packet, since I agree it is nice cold usually (in fact I never heat it, can't stand the smell!)

  • Message 5. Posted by Cookaholic on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    That's what's odd - there's no 'Ready To Eat / Pre-cooked' message anywhere on the packet. Just the 35mins cooking instructions PLUS a recipe idea which also involves cooking it properly.

    NO microwave instructions at all!!

    Bizarre isn;t it!

    Unfortunately I don't fancy tasting it to see if IS pre-cooked ... bit risky I reckon ... for poisoning me or my guest!

    Will probably then have to go through the palaver <yikes> of cooking it as per packet instructions THEN use it in the kedgeree recipe I want to make, just to be safe.

    Ah well - needs must!

    Must say I won't be buying that particular packet of 'smoked mackerel' again!!

    Thanks for all help.


  • Message 6. Posted by AlinaW on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    It will depend how the fish has been "smoked".
    In the past, things were often "hot smoked", meaning that they were cooked at the same time. However, many "smoked" items are now simply saturated with smoke-flavoured water (which is much cheaper) and hence they are raw.

  • Message 7. Posted by LaConchita on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    I've only ever bought it cooked to make paté.

    Where was it in the shop? That's usually a good clue ... with smoked salmon/in a deli chiller or with raw fish in main fridge area?

    Also precooked stuff tends to be vacuum packed.

  • Message 8. Posted by MrsWembley on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    Hi MW

    is it defintely SMOKED and definitely MACKEREL?

    You say it is for a kedgeree recipe and I am sure there are many variations, but I make kedgeree with smoked hdadock, which normally needs more cooking, though NOT 35 minutes.

    In all honestly I can't think of any fish (the ultimate fast food) that I would cook for that long.

    I tried the Tesco website but it did not give me 'finest smoked mackerel' at all.

    ALL other smoked macekrel were cooked and vacuum packed and ready to use or could be heated for 2.5 or 3.5 minutes.

    Please do report back. I am fascinated.

  • Message 9. Posted by mocando on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    Hi. I would say if it doesn't say Ready to Eat, it almost certainly won't be. However, can cook quicker than 35 mins.

    You don't say if it's whole fish or fillets:

    If whole fish, can microwave on 70% power in a loose covered dish with a few tablespoons of water for 5 mins, turn over, another 2 then check, then another 1 ongoing until cooked (disastrous to overcook and will cook in residual heat if stood for a while).

    Thin flat fillets can be done the same way, but will take only 1-3 mins, check, and probs just letting stand will cook it from residual heat.

    Mackerel has fine hair bones which are a nightmare if fish is overcooked.

  • Message 10. Posted by Organoleptic Icon on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    MW - are you familiar with smoked mackerel? Does it look and smell like smoked mackerel? The difference between smoked and raw is pretty obvious.

    How big is it? How many pieces? Weight?

    HOW are they telling you to cook it for 35mins? As someone has said that's too long for any mackerel sized fish. But might be right for a fish pie or similar with bits of fish in it.

    Give them a ring.

    By phone:
    Telephone 0845 7225533*, 8am to 11pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm Saturday and 10am to 6pm Sunday

  • Message 11. Posted by Cookaholic on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    ˇAy, caramba!

    What a riot!

    THANK YOU for asking me to check that – as yes, I have rechecked packet label and it says that it’s NOT 'smoked mackerel' on the Tesco packet, it’s smoked HADDOCK!

    A very different Kettle Of Fish (sorry I couldn’t resist that!!)

    Oh boy, now I’ll have to drag out my recipe for kedgeree that requires haddock.

    The confusion was caused by downloading several recipes from the BBC website for all types of kedgeree, as we have too much risotto rice and wanted to use it up. I clearly then picked out the wrong recipe for the ingredient!

    Hey ho! Ain’t life fun!! <biggrin>

    I will let you know what I finally choose to do with the fish. BBC Good Food magazine online has a great 'Smoked Haddock(!) & Dill Risotto' recipe I printed out last week. I might try that!

    I don;t normally leave thisngs till the last minute, but I have todya, so off I pop!!

    Thanks again everyone!


  • Message 12. Posted by MrsWembley on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    Ah M.W.

    That explains it.

    Don't know what your recipe says but I would only poach smoked haddock for 10 - 15 minutes in a milk/water mix then flake for kedgeree (I use long grain rice for this), risotto.

    I guess the whole dish, kedgeree OR risotto would take about the 35 minutes.

    enjoy whatever you end up doing. I love smoked fish of all sorts.

  • Message 13. Posted by Organoleptic Icon on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    So was it "T.Finest Traditional Undyed Smoked Haddock"

    Does not look much like kippers!

    But even there cooking time only 20-25 mins; not 35!

  • Message 14. Posted by mocando on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    Did you get out of bed the wrong side today scribbler? Kippers is 'errings not mackerel and MV has it sorted. However, whether smoked is ready to eat or not has come up before I think with fish as supermarkets sell both sorts, so better to see what it says on the label really.

    I think kippers are cold smoked usually (so need cooking). To avoid pong, one way is to put them into a big jug of just-boiled water and leave them. :)

  • Message 15. Posted by Organoleptic Icon on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    hi moca - just a mistake. Meant to say they did not look much like mackerel. That was based on finding them at Tesco online. Link may not work due to security procedures, but here it is

    They also give cooking instructions online - NOT for 35 mins!

    Time: 20-25 minutesTemperature: 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4Instructions:
    Remove all packaging. Place on a baking tray in the centre of a pre-heated

    oven for 20-25 minutes.

  • Message 16. Posted by mocando on Monday, 8th June 2009 permalink

    No worries. I couldn't find them either (though I did find value smoked mackerel). Probs why Mrs Wembley asked, especially as they were for kedgeree.

    Re the written instructions for putting the haddock fillets (per the link you gave) onto a baking tray and baking them - would anyone really do that? (i.e. uncovered, unfoiled, no liquid, not marinaded). Very strange... I wonder if anyone at Tesco food writing/labelling dept ever did or does that.

  • Message 17. Posted by Cookaholic on Tuesday, 9th June 2009 permalink

    Thanks for that very useful info., AlinaW!

    That explains a lot!

    Must say it would have been better packaged if Tesco had stated on the vacuum-packing that 'This is not smoked as in cooked, but smoked as in dressed in a smoked marinade; so is raw fish and MUST be fully cooked before using' or some other such phrase! It would have helped clarify this important food-hygiene issue.

    I can imageine many cooks also assume it IS already cooked and prepare their recipe accordingly!

    Maybe the Food Standards Agency, if it's still them 'in charge', could set up a new precedence for this by standardising the packaging of all smoked goods.


    Thanks again - without this messageboard I'd have cooked somewhat of a wrong 'un!!

    M.W. <ok>

  • Message 18. Posted by Cookaholic on Tuesday, 9th June 2009 permalink

    Yes it was 25mins, not 35 - I didn't have time befreo the meal yesterday evening to correct my initial typo-error re this in my 1st posting, as the point was Did the fish need cooking AT ALL or for only a c.5minute warm-up, or did it need a long-term 'proper' cook?!?!?!


    So yes I did it for 25mins.


  • Message 19. Posted by Organoleptic Icon on Tuesday, 9th June 2009 permalink


    I think there is a limit as to how much basic information you can expect Tesco to put on food.

    To know the difference between hot smoked and cold smoked is more basic food education than food packaging I think.

    Incidentally I do not think something just marinaded in artificial flavour could be sold as "smoked" unless very clearly so lableed

  • Message 20. Posted by mocando on Tuesday, 9th June 2009 permalink

    Good ho. 35 mins did seem an inordinately long time as fish can go so hard and dry if overcooked that it's a bin jobbie, hence my previous suggestion of checking it frequently.

    It can be quite an art to cook a fillet evenly that has a thin tail end (though the ones in the pack scribbler linked looked pretty even in depth). If it is only for flaking, rather than a presentation fillet, it can be better to cut off any thin sides or end (I use kitchen scissors) and cook that for a much shorter length of time <ok>

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