An early start today with a 6am rendezvous on South Shields pier with a spinning rod and a shiny spinner. Mackerel season is in full force and I love this fish with a passion. Cheap, delicious and plentiful, it is the fish for frugal times.
Trying to catch them is another matter. They should be the easiest fish in the ocean to catch when they are in season. 3 hours of spinning and 2 dropped mackerel later, I packed away veritably fishless. But thanks to a very generous Graham Slesser and his daughter, the best fishermen in the world, and a couple more generous chaps alongside me, I came home heavy laden with 8 fat mackerel. And before you ask, and despite the temptation to pretend to be the caveman returning with his meat for the family, I told the truth to my girls.
Now to the treatment - devilled mackerel. A beautifully rich fish to eat, the combination of spices in this recipe cuts through the oiliness to create the most delicious of fish suppers. Devilling is a combination of 'British spices' from our East India Trading days, and our Victorian ancestors utilised this combination of cayenne, mustard, paprika and coriander to perfection. It needs nothing other than a simple salad of tomatoes, onions and mint and a few crisped potatoes.
This is typical Rick Stein grub, the kind of simple pleasurable food that gets both of us excited and one that I am proud to reproduce with a few tweaks from his 'Seafood Lovers Guide' for your pleasure. But the main thanks go to real fishermen, Graham and his daughter who despite fighting out a 2-2 draw became true champions in my grateful and greedy eyes...
Devilled Mackerel with Tomato, Onion and Mint Salad
4x mackerel, gutted, cleaned and trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp teaspoon paprika
1 tsp teaspoon ground coriander
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
For the tomato and onion salad
4 onions, thinly sliced
1 small onion thinly sliced
A handful of mint
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 - Heat a grill to high.
2 - Slash the mackerel skin at 1cm intervals from the head to the tail, ensuring you do not go through to the bone.
3 - Melt the butter in a shallow pan. Remove and stir in the sugar, spices, vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper to make a paste. Turn the mackerel in the paste ensuring it enters the slashes you made as well as the cavity.
4 - Transfer to the grill pan and grill for 5 minutes each side until blistered and fragrant.
5 - To make the tomato and onion salad, bash the mint in a pestle and mortar then stir in the olive oil, lemon juice and a little seasoning. Arrange the tomato and onion on a plate and pour over the dressing.
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