Mackerel enjoys a lengthy season, typically available from early summer until late winter, and is fortunately one of few fish stocks not currently at risk from overfishing. Despite its bright silver skin and meaty flesh the fish was long overlooked by the fine dining world, and while this is no longer the case the fish remains very reasonably priced. They are, on the whole, a very oily fish which is wonderful for its rich, distinctive flavour and nutritional benefits but worth bearing mind during the cooking process.
Mackerel carries a stronger taste than some other fish, which is often balanced with softer flavours like beetroot or cucumber. Simon Hulstone’s Mackerel pâté recipe makes a wonderfully elegant starter with its cucumber pickle, or try Kevin Mangeolles’ striking Mackerel with compressed watermelon, a beautifully vibrant fish starter recipe.
Equally well matched to the iridescent fish are citrusy ingredients – think Luke Holder’s Mackerel with lemon sherbet dressing - which can help to accentuate the freshness of the fish. Mackerel is also well suited to piquant flavours, as exemplified by Geoffrey Smeddle in his Seared mackerel with chilli dish.
Smoked mackerel is also widely available, bearing an even richer flavour than its unsmoked counterpart. For a twist on the classic picnic snack, try James MacKenzie’s Mackerel Scotch eggs with tartare sauce, a wonderful smoked mackerel recipe that substitutes the sausage meat for fish.