Mackerel is, in my view, an under-valued fish. Rarely does it make an appearance at a dinner party or on a restaurant menu. Only occasionally in the form of a smoked mackerel paté. Yet it is a delicious fish - extremely flavoursome and quite unique. I think there is a good reason for its lack of popularity though. It is one of those fish that is at its best when eaten just hours after being plucked from the sea. Don't get me wrong - all fish is best when it is fresh - but mackerel seems to deteriorate more rapidly than some. Or maybe I'm just spoilt as I have always eaten it this way - spanking fresh.
No holiday to Abersoch would be complete without a little mackerel fishing. This activity is undertaken with great relish in my family and always has a competitive edge. Who can catch the most? It is a well known fact/myth that mackerel are very stupid. It is certainly true that they are easy to catch, making fishing for them a fun task for children (and adults) who bore of fishing quickly when nothing is biting.
I missed out on the fun this time - I passed up the opportunity to hit the water when I thought the weather looked bad and it turned out to be the perfect day. Fortunately it all worked out well - my mother caught enough for us all while my sister and I sunned ourselves on the beach. Not quite as good as having caught them myself, but the next best thing. In fact, probably better as my mother is much braver when it comes to killing the fish post catching than I am. I'm a bit of a wimp. I understand that on this occasion it was my father who did the dastardly deed.
Back at home I found my mother already busy gutting the shimmering beauties, their vivid markings glistening on the worktop.
I had been wanting to try them whole, on the barbecue, with a lime and chilli dressing, but as they were already prepared in 'butterfly' formation, I decided to leave it to my mother to prepare in the traditional way. We have always eaten our mackerel for breakfast - I am not sure why - simply fried in a little Welsh butter. Firstly, the fish are coated in flour which has been well seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper. The butter is melted in the pan until foaming and the mackerel fried lightly on each side until just cooked and golden. Served with a wedge of lemon. Delicious...
Beautifully simple yet totally delicious. And, most importantly, spanking fresh!