An under-estimated fish if ever there was one. It has a bad reputation with older generations, who were suspicious of its career as a scavenger (it is all right for humans to eat the flesh of other creatures, but wrong, apparently, for the poor mackerel).

Mackerel eaten fresh (which they usually are) are a treat. If they look floppy, grey and dull they should be avoided of course: a fresh mackerel will be stiff and rigid, with a sparkling, positively beautiful rainbow hue.

Mackerel is a lovely fish; very flavoursome and moist with a tender flesh. Grill or oven-bake them – and they’re also real stars at a barbecue. The smaller mackerel are the best size to buy – working out at one fish per person. Bone them in exactly the same way as herrings. They are excellent plainly grilled: make diagonal cuts across the body, season on both sides with salt and pepper, and give them about 5 minutes under a high grill on both sides.

They are traditionally – and rightly – served with a sharp purée of gooseberries flavoured with a little nutmeg, or with a purée of rhubarb flavoured with a spot of ginger. Mackerel is an oily fish. These are not oily in the way we use the word but they do contain a certain amount of precious substances called omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to help reduce heart disease - so much so that it is recommended that everyone eats some of this type of fish once a week.

Related Recipes
Oven-baked Mackerel Stuffed with Pesto Mash Serves 4

Oven-baked Mackerel Stuffed with Pesto Mash

Delia describes this as 'one of the best fish recipes ever' - and who are we to argue? What's more it's a doddle to make and will provide you with masses of lovely omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Smoked Mackerel Pate with Ricotta and Capers Serves 8

Smoked Mackerel Pate with Ricotta and Capers

Quite simply the easiest pâté I've ever made. All the ingredients are placed together in the bowl of the processor, then one little whiz and it's made! It also has an utterly sublime flavour – brilliant! Serve with hot toasted wholemeal bread.

Grilled Cornish mackerel with salsa verde Serves 2, or 4 as a starter

Grilled Cornish mackerel with salsa verde

This easy cheat supper dish is so quick that you'll want to make it again and again. The salsa verde is a great complement to the fish, which can be cooked from frozen.

Mackerel with Rhubarb Sauce Serves 2

Mackerel with Rhubarb Sauce

Not quite so famous as mackerel with gooseberries but just as good – the acidic fruit counteracts the richness of the fish perfectly.




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