Mackerel is a deliciously oily, full flavoured fish, begging to be smoked writes Sandra Tate.
They have now arrived in abundance around the shores of the UK and represent the perfect reason to fire up (or should that be smoke up) your Bradley Smoker this Easter.
For 800g mackerel, filleted and cleaned, mix 50g salt with 50g light brown sugar and juice of a lemon. Rub the cure into the flesh side of the fish and lay flesh to flesh together in a snug container. Leave for 30 minutes then rinse off thoroughly, pat dry and lay on Bradley steel wire baskets, spaced apart from each other. Leave the fillets to dry in a cool, airy, place for an hour (not the fridge). Heat the Bradley Smoker to 150°F/65°C – 170°F/75°C, load with 3 Oak Bisquettes, and smoke for about 1 hour or until cooked. Allow to cool then refrigerate.
Editor’s note: If you are not in position to catch your own, but have a good fishmonger, you’ll be sure to have the freshest mackerel, caught that morning. For best results you should prepare it the same day (buy enough to smoke, and a couple to serve fresh from a grill, if you want to appreciate the sheer versatility of this lovely fish). For smoking purposes it would be as well for you to ask the fishmonger to fillet the fish. Remove any traces of dark, bloodied, areas of the fish or they will taint the flavour with a bitter aftertaste. Once smoked, the fillets will keep well for up to 5 days in the fridge, but (as with most things) the fresher they are, the better they will be.
You should have enough fillets to make this as a starter or light lunch – and some left for another day. Breakfast of smoked mackerel with poached egg is a sure-fire winner.
400g smoked mackerel, skin removed
200g cream cheese
1tbsp creamed horseradish
juice of a lemon
1tbsp finely chopped parsley
slices of sourdough bread, toasted
lemon wedges to serve
1 Prepare, and smoke, the mackerel as per the instructions above. Cool completely, wrap in greaseproof paper, and refrigerate.
2 Remove the skin from the mackerel (and the dark brown meat – if you’re picky about presentation!), and any bones you come across (small ones aren’t a problem to the throat), then flake the flesh gently with fingers. Reserve 100g of the flaked fish.
3 Place the remaining smoked mackerel in a bowl and roughly shred the flakes with two forks (keeping some texture). Mix in the cream cheese and horseradish then season to taste with lemon juice. Fold in the chopped parsley and spoon generous amounts onto warm toasts. Finally, dress with some of the reserved mackerel and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve with a lemon wedge.