(Feature image by alexbrn)
Absolutely anyone can catch a mackerel.
Mum and Dad, were sitting on Solva harbour sipping a Gin and Tonic, waving me off like parents who’d just discovered free childcare. They’d handed me over to a stranger who had a sideline in ‘fishing trips’. I was seven years old and perched on a small boat, without a lifejacket, in bumpy water. I went from feeling like we were all going to die to mild excitement when we received our fishing equipment. The excitement lasted about three seconds.
I clutched a piece of fishing line with some hooks on it. No bait, no weights, and no technique, just “…hang over the line and hope for the best”, said the man I genuinely believed was Captain Birds Eye.
Of course, the wily old man with the beard knew what he was doing, and a boat load of children went from tantrum to triumph as we pulled up our lines no more than five minutes later. I knew something had happened because the line was heavier. That, I thought, was surely a good sign. As I pulled furiously, faster and faster through the salty crests, the distant flashes of silver turned to actual proper fish. I wasn’t keen on dispatching them on the back of the head with the mallet, but I did feel like a hero once I got back to rosy-cheeked parents. It was then that I discovered I had caught my first mackerel.
In most parts of Pembrokeshire, you can pretty much look at the sea and catch a mackerel. In season right now, they must surely rate as one of the most healthy, tasty and plentiful ingredients that Mother Nature provides. The recipe below is an easy way to enjoy mackerel. I use crabmeat in mine, but you can easily make it without. Take a look at the video here to learn an easy way to fillet mackerel.
Oven Roasted Mackerel with Potato Cakes and Crab Vinaigrette
4 Mackerel Fillets
2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
Cracked Black Pepper
200g Potatoes (Maris Pipers work best)
50g Spring Onions, softened in butter
A knob of butter
For the Vinaigrette:
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 Tomato, deseeded and cut into small squares
50g Crab Meat, White or Brown
1) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
2) Mix the Garlic, Olive Oil in a bowl. Add a pinch of Sea Salt and Black Pepper. Brush over your Mackerel fillets liberally. Cover, and leave to chill in the fridge.
3) Cut and boil your Potatoes in salted water. When almost cooked, remove, drain and mash with the spring onions. I like to leave the skins in for added texture. Season the mixture and add some butter. Cool, and form into two burger shaped cakes.
4) Place your Mackerel fillets, skin side up, on a non stick tray in the oven. They will take about 8 minutes to cook.
5) Meanwhile, cook off your Potato cakes. Add a knob of butter to a heavy based pan and add your cakes. Cook until brown on either side. Transfer to the oven to keep warm.
6) For the vinaigrette, add all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk well.
7) To serve, place one cake on a plate and add the Mackerel fillets on top. Drizzle with the Vinaigrette and serve with a small green salad.
Ed Latter – Chef