There are various different species of mackerel found around the world. These recipes feature Atlantic mackerel but could be made to apply equally to the likes of Spanish mackerel or even similar fish like herring. When you are choosing oily fish like mackerel, it is particularly important that you buy and cook them as fresh as possible, as the flesh will soon start to break down and become mushy. This will make them nigh on impossible to fillet properly and make them more likely to lose their shape as they cook.
Curry spiced and pan fried mackerel fillets on a simple peach salad bed
These two mackerel were just about as fresh as fresh gets. They were caught on Loch Fyne on Scotland's West Coast just a few hours before they were brought home, filleted and cooked.
Freshly caught mackerel
The importance of keeping kitchen knives as sharp as possible can never be understated. When filleting fish, it is particularly important that you use a dedicated filleting knife and that it be razor sharp. The best way of keeping any knife at its sharpest is to use a dedicated sharpening steel. These items are not expensive to buy, work far better than most if not all other knife sharpening tools available in today's market and are likely to last for many years if cared for properly.
Filleting knife and sharpening steel
The short video below shows how simple it is to use a sharpening steel and keep your knives in their best condition
How to Easily Fillet a Mackerel
An initial cut is made behind the pectoral fin and towards the head of the mackerel
Lay the mackerel on its side on a chopping board with the head nearest your weaker hand. Hold the head and make a deep, semi-circular cut behind the pectoral fin, angled towards the head and right through to the bone.
First mackerel side fillet is removed
Twist the knife to face the tail and cut in a see-saw motion all the way along the bone to remove the first fillet.
Second mackerel fillet is in turn removed
Turn the mackerel over and perform the exact same procedure on the other side to remove the second fillet.
Bones are removed from mackerel fillets
There is a ridge of bones runs around two-thirds of the way down the center of each fillet. These can be removed by making two cuts either side of the bones to form a v-shape and tugging the strip free. The bones and skin on the belly flap part of the fillet should be scraped away.
Ready to cook mackerel fillets
Wash the fillets gently in some cold water, pat dry with kitchen paper and they are ready to be cooked.
Ingredients (Serves 1)
Bag of mixed salad leaves
- 2 mackerel side fillets
- 2 generous handfuls mixed salad leaves of choice
- 1 ripe peach
- 2 tablespoons all purpose (plain) flour
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
- Wedge of fresh lime
- Freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf) to garnish
Salad leaves are firstly washed
Wash the salad leaves in a colander under running cold water and set aside to drain.
Curry spiced and seasoned flour
Spread the flour out on a dinner plate. Scatter with one teaspoon of the curry powder, some salt and pepper. Pour the oil in to a non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a fairly high heat.
Mackerel fillets are floured and seasoned
Pat the mackerel fillets in the flour on their skin sides. Season the flesh sides with some salt and the second teaspoon of curry powder.
Curry spiced mackerel fillets are added to frying pan
Gently shake the excess flour from the mackerel fillets and lay them skin sides down in the hot pan. They will take two to three minutes to cook before they are ready for turning.
Peach is cut in half
Wash the peach and make a cut all the way around the circumference, right through to the stone. Twist the two halves apart. Provided the peach is fully ripe, the stone should easily pop free from the half in which it is embedded.
Peach halves are cut in to wedges
Cut each peach half in to four wedges.
Peach salad is arranged on serving plate
Toss the peach halves through the salad with a little salt and pepper and arrange on a serving plate as a bed for the mackerel.
Mackerel fillets are turned to complete cooking on their flesh sides
When you can see that the mackerel fillets are cooked almost but not quite all the way through, reduce the heat under your pan to minimum. Flip the fillets carefully over with a spatula to complete cooking in about thirty seconds to a minute on their flesh sides.
Mackerel fillets are lfited on to peach salad
Lift the mackerel fillets on to the salad bed, skin sides up. The extremely thin skin is perfectly edible but if you wish, you could carefully scrape it away with a knife.
Enjoying curried mackerel and peach salad
Garnish with the chopped cilantro and lime wedge and serve immediately.
Bonus Recipe: Chili Spiced Mackerel and Salad Sandwich
Simple chili spiced mackerel and green leaf salad sandwich
The second mackerel brought home that day was refrigerated after it was filleted to serve as lunch the following day in the form of a simple but extremely tasty fish sandwich.
Chili powder spiced mackerel fillets
The mackerel fillets were cooked in exactly the same way as in the previous recipe with the exception that medium strength chili powder was used instead of curry powder.
First fried mackerel fillet is laid on bread
Two fairly thick slices were cut from a very fresh artisan loaf (wheat, spelt and rye on this occasion) and the first mackerel fillet was laid from the cooking pan on to one slice.
Seasoned salad leaves are laid on top of mackerel fillet
Some earlier washed and seasoned salad leaves were laid on top of the fillet before the second mackerel fillet was added.
Chili spiced mackerel salad sandwich is assembled
The second slice of bread went on top and the sandwich was gently pressed down before being halved at an angle for service.
Mackerel sandwich is ready to eat