Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Atlantic Mackerel

Mackerel is under-appreciated.  For those who try to stretch their grocery budget, it is kind of a hidden gem of the grocery store.  Now to save money, you have to do a little work.  My grocery store sells Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) for €1 per 100 grams for a store-prepared fillet.  If you don't mind doing a little work de-boning the fish yourself you can save a ton of money; it only costs 39 cents per 100 grams when you buy the entire fish.  These four mackerel cost €2.83 at my local grocery store.

De-boning is easy.  When the fish is cooked and on your plate, simply place your knife at the head right behind the gills and press down.  The knife will hit the vertebrae about 1 cm in and you fill feel resistance; when this happens, turn the knife toward the tail.  Slide the knife along the comb-like-ribs and vertebrae and fillet the fish.  The entire fillet will separate easily when the fish is properly cooked.  Now go back to the place behind the gills where you put the knife in.  Lift up the spine with your fingers and the whole thing will peel up in one piece.  Ta da!  You just saved yourself a couple euro.

I use whatever vegetables are in the refrigerator when I cook mackerel.  Yes, I admit that a lot of my dinners involve protein & veg thrown in a gratin dish and baked in the oven.  So what if it's not gourmet?  Simplicity is elegance.

This time I had carrots, a few new potatoes and most of a butternut squash.  These babies got a rough chop--aim for uniform size cubes under 2 cm--and place around the fish.  The fish got a stuffing of scallions, cilantro (they call it coriander here) parsley, a couple garlic cloves and a kiss of fresh rosemary from the garden.  These are mostly for aromatics.  They smell lovely when the fish is in the oven and they add a little color.  Bake uncovered in a 200 °C oven for 35 to 40 minutes.


  1. Hey I just realised the colors of my dinner are green, white and orange--the colors of the Irish flag. How patriotic!

  2. And it was delicious too. Om nom nom nom :-D