'The mackerel are in'. Anybody that lives near the coast may have heard these words uttered by excited men in pubs, streets and cafes. For some reason, even if you hate fishing and have never picked up a rod in your life, shoals of approaching mackerel still induces excitement. It is as if the aliens have landed. And people rush to the shoreline to see them approach. With handheld fishing lines and tin foil in hand, South Shields pier is full to the brim with men trying to catch a little fishy for their little dishy. Some slight exaggerations here, but I do love a bit of drama.
Mackerel are so delicious and so good for you. As well as being delicious and good for you, they are really easy to catch. They are so greedy and feed in such a frenzy that anything goes. So a piece of tin foil wrapped onto a hook is very effective. Drop it into the murky waters of the North Sea and dinner has been caught. Eat a mackerel as fresh as can be and you will benefit from unrivalled flavour for the price of a pot noodle. They are so cheap and plentiful at this time of the year, and that makes me a very happy man.
I leave the fishing to the experts and opt for my trustful fishmonger, the amazing Latimers of Whitburn. Fresh from the sea, eyes still winking and gills scarlet red, I need to get them quickly into a pan. So yesterday, I boiled up a few new potatoes and allowed them to cool. Sliced in half, I popped them into a pan with hot rapeseed oil, sliced mushrooms and a handful of frozen peas. Whilst they were crisping up, I made a simple dressing with a handful of capers, the juice of a lemon, more rapeseed oil and black pepper.
Vegetables cooked, I then piled them onto a plate with a handful of rocket. Fillets of mackerel, boned and seasoned, were then seared in the same pan for 2 minutes then placed on top of the vegetables. All that was left was a quick drizzle of the dressing and a quick, fresh and tasty tea of mackerel was served. Beautiful in all of its simplicity. The mackerel are in. Best get the tin foil at the ready.
Pan Fried Mackerel with New Potatoes, Mushrooms and Peas
2 mackerels, filleted, skin slashed and seasoned
10-15 of new potatoes (depending on how hungry you are), boiled and cooled and halved
2 handfuls of rocket
1 handful of frozen peas
2 handfuls of mushrooms, any, sliced in half
2 tbsp Rapeseed or olive oil
For the dressing
Juice of one lemon
A handful of capers, rinsed
2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 - Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients.
2 - Heat up a large frying pan. Add the potatoes and mushrooms and cook until golden. Add the peas and warm through with a little seasoning.
3 - Pile onto plates then scatter over the rocket.
4 - Heat up a little more oil then place the fillets skin down and cook for 2 minutes until crisp and golden. Flip and cook for a further minute.
5 - Place fillets onto the vegetables then drizzle over the dressing.