Thursday, 16 August 2012

Spicy Mackerel Fillets and Potato Wedges with Salsa

Spicy, pan fried mackerel fillets are served with crisp potato wedges and salsa

It's a great shame that when many sea fishermen think of mackerel, they do so only in terms of bait for bigger and - what they perceive to be - better things. Mackerel is definitely one of my favourite eating fish and because it is so incredibly versatile, there is never an excuse for running out of different ways to cook and serve it. As yet another prime mackerel fishing season in the West of Scotland starts to draw to a close, I for one am intent on eating this fabulous fish as often as possible in the next few weeks, so because I hadn't been fishing this week, I went to my local supermarket to buy a whole, fresh fish.  (Although some people freeze mackerel for food, I only freeze mackerel that I am intending using another day for bait, as I don't believe freezing mackerel for eating works well.)

I was amazed when I got to the supermarket and saw only what were basically fairly small joey (young and undersized) mackerel on display. I mentioned this to the man at the counter and he told me that most people who buy their mackerel are doing so only to use them as bait for pike, so the size to them doesn't matter. It really never fails to amaze me that people pay a considerably higher price for endangered cod or haddock, when this sustainable delight is available as an alternative. I bought the biggest mackerel they had and came up with this latest idea of preparing and serving it. I hope you'll give it a try the next time you hook in to a mackerel or see it available in your supermarket - or alternatively, check the very end of this post to find links to sites featuring lots more original and tasty mackerel recipes.

Ingredients per Person

1 whole, ungutted mackerel
1 large baking potato
1 medium tomato
2 inch piece of cucumber
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
Smoked paprika

Potato wedges are firstly parboiled


Wash the potato but don't peel it. Cut it in half lengthways then cut each half in to three or four wedges. Put them in to a pot of cold water and bring the water to a boil. Simmer for ten minutes.

Principal salsa ingredients

While the potato wedges are simmering, prepare your salsa. Deseed and finely dice the tomato and cucumber and add them to a glass or stone bowl. Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the bowl. Add the lemon juice, a good glug (technical term!) of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and stir well. Cover with clingfilm and put it in the fridge until it is needed.

Potato wedges are tossed in paprika and stirred in hot oil for baking

Drain the potato wedges and return them to the empty pot. Let them steam away and cool slightly while you preheat your oven. This helps get rid of the excess water. Drizzle some olive oil on a roasting tray and put it in the oven to heat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Scatter some smoked paprika liberally over the potato wedges and season with salt. Turn them carefully around in the hot oil with a wooden spoon. Cook in the oven for about twenty minutes until they are crisp.

Fillets are removed from the whole mackerel

Fillet the mackerel and carefully wash the fillets in a bowl of cold water. Pat them dry with kitchen paper. Put the flour on a plate and season with about a teaspoon of smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Put a little olive oil in to a non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Pat the mackerel fillets only on their skin sides in the flour and lay them skin sides down in the frying pan. Season the flesh with salt and pepper and a little bit more smoked paprika if desired.

Mackerel fillets are patted in seasoned flour for frying

Allow the mackerel to fry on a fairly high heat for about three minutes, until you can see they are cooked most of the way through. Reduce the heat under the pan to minimum and turn them on to their flesh sides to complete cooking while you give the final attention to the potato wedges.

Mackerel fillets are fried firstly on their floured skin sides

Remove the potato wedges from the oven to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain. Plate them, lay the mackerel fillets and the salsa alongside and serve immediately.

Spicy potato wedges are plated, ready for the mackerel and salsa

Mackerel Recipes Around the Web

Super Quick and Easy Mackerel Recipes
Mackerel Recipes and Different Ways to Cook and Serve Mackerel
Mackerel Recipes on the BBC
Channel 4 Mackerel Recipes
Mackerel Recipes from All Recipes UK
Mackerel Recipes on Great British Chefs

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