A firm-fleshed, oil-rich fish with a torpedo-like shape and iridescent silver and blue striped skin. Mackerel is a delicious nutritious fish, with intense creamy meat packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
Fresh mackerel is usually sold whole with or without the head on. They are at their peak season in July, so keep an eye out for them at your local fishmonger. Freshness is of utmost importance - mackerel, like many oily fish, tend to spoil more quickly than white fish. Check for firm, shiny bodies and clear, bright eyes. Smoked mackerel is also very inexpensive.
Fresh mackerel can be grilled, fried, barbecued or poached and is perfect for stuffing and oven-baking. It works well with strong, spicy flavours and a touch of acidity - mackerel served with gooseberry sauce is a traditional English dish. Try grilling the fish whole on the barbecue with coarse sea salt and a generous squeeze of lime, or simply pan-fry the fillets and serve with a refreshing mint and mustard vinaigrette. Avoid heavy, cream-based sauces - the richness of mackerel is enough of a stomach filler as it is.
The oily texture of mackerel makes it an excellent fish for smoking. Smoked mackerel is delicious torn into salads or whizzed in a blender with some crème fraîche or ricotta cheese, lemon juice and pepper to make smoked mackerel pâté. This fish also suits being pickled, marinated, and salted.