Mackerel is a carnivorous fish that belongs to the same family as the tuna. It is found in both tropical and temperate seas.
The common mackerel, found in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, is a long slender fish usually growing to about 12- inches and sometimes reaching 18-inches in length. It has a pointed head and a large mouth. The markings are distinctive steel-blue bands on the back and the belly is silvery-white.
Mackerel is rich in oil and contains vitamins A and D. It is also a good source of protein. Mackerel has a good flavour and texture and is, generally, inexpensive which makes it an excellent buy.
Mackerel is best and most plentiful during the months from October to March. It must be bought very fresh when the markings are bright and glossy, the eyes moist and bright and the flesh firm.
Mackerel may be grilled , fried, baked or steamed. The richness of the fish calls for sharp, tasty sauces and accom- paniments such as lemons, gooseberries or fennel.
The fish is usually prepared for cooking by the fishmonger. The scales are removed and the fish is slit so that the entrails may be removed. The head and fins are cut oft’ – except when the fish is to be cooked whole.
For a main course, allow one mackerel per person. For an hors d’oeuvre, two mackerel will serve 4 persons.
To grill mackerel, make three diagonal slits on both sides of the prepared fish. Preheat the grill to very hot. Place the fish in the grill pan with a little salt and lemon juice and brush it over with vegetable oil or melted butter. Place the pan under the grill and cook the fish for 15 to 20 minutes or until the skin is crisp and the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Turn the fish once during cooking and baste with a little more oil or butter.
Remove the pan from the grill and serve the mackerel immediately with the cooking juices.
To fry mackerel, bone and fillet the fish, roll it in oatmeal and fry in the same way as given for HERRING.
Mackerel may also be salted, smoked or soused.