Mackerel, there is a lot to love. Not in season just yet but later this summer they will be at their best and so much fun to catch as they travel in dense shoals, shimmering along the coast.
Off the pier, off the rocks, over the stern of your boat, catch them where you can. Beautifully streamlined with iridescent vertical strips, a silver belly and a forked tail they dance about, but flop fairly lazily to their fate once caught. Best eaten straight from the sea over a fire on the beach.
An oily fish and a rich source of omega-3, they have been part of our diet for generations. To keep mackerel as fresh as possible immediately gut them, cut off the head and tail and wash in seawater. The fish bleeds and will then keep immeasurably better than when merely gutted. They can be smoked and are delicious pickled and it is not so often one gets to cook them over a fire on the beach so here is a super recipe from 'Forgotten Skills of Cooking' that pairs mackerel with migas, a traditional Spanish dish that uses leftover and stale bread. Originally a shepherd’s meal that could be made in the field, the ingredients vary over different Spanish regions. A simple summer lunch.
4 fresh mackerel fillets, washed and patted dry
Extra virgin olive oil
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
For the Almond Migas
125g coarse breadcrumbs from stale-ish sourdough bread
75g nibbed almonds
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
250ml extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoon flat parsley, chopped
First make the almond migas. Mix the breadcrumbs, almonds and garlic. Heat half the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan, add half the breadcrumb mixture and toss over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until golden. Turn onto a plate while you do the same with the other half.
Meanwhile, heat a pan grill. Season the dry mackerel fillets, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and pan grill for a few minutes on each side, first on the flesh side, then on the skin side, until crisp and golden.
To serve, add the flat parsley to the almond migas. Divide the migas between 4 plates. Add a few halved cherry tomatoes to each plate, and serve the almond migas with a fillet of hot mackerel. Serve immediately.
Saturday Workshop wooden fish photography by Makers & Brothers
Mackerel Migas and recipe, Forgotten Skills of Cooking