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.

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