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VOL. 35 | NO. 29 | Friday, July 22, 2011

Holy mackerel! Cooking this fish is really easy

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My family and I took a much-needed vacation to Orange Beach, Ala., this past week. If anyone tried to tell me that area is still suffering from the oil spill and the hurricanes over the last few years, I would have a hard time believing them. They are booming, at least it seemed that way to me.

My 5-year-old granddaughter did run into a few tar balls, one on her hand and another small one in her swimsuit, but that was the extent of it. The beaches are wonderful and the new condos that have been built are lovely, as well. We really did have a good time.

One of the things we had planned was to charter a boat and go deep-sea fishing. However, once looking into that we found it would be a really long day on the water so we opted for trolling. That ended up being a hit, because our son, David, and son-in-law, Brandon, both caught quite a supply of Spanish and king mackerel. They feel like they can do anything now!

I don’t know about that, but I do know they have a lot of fish stories, even about “the one that got away.” However, neither one of them caught a fish as large as the mako shark I caught a few months back. Mom is still one up on them!

I donated my mako to a local church to feed the needy because I was too far away from home to bother with getting it shipped. David and Brandon, however, had their fish filleted and packed on ice to take home. I’m not so sure I know what mackerel tastes like. Most of the fish I have ever caught and eaten were catfish, bass and trout. That was always with my dad, and we always fried them.

I decided to look up a few recipes for preparing mackerel. I found several, but it seems like the one that I found the most was required olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper on it, then grill it.

What you do is lay some foil on the grill, oil it with the olive oil then add the fillet with the skin side down, salt and pepper then squeeze lemon juice on it.

Here’s a little information on Spanish mackerel, if you ever get out and find yourself with a heaping mess of it like we did.

The Atlantic Spanish mackerel is a migratory species of mackerel that swims to the northern Gulf of Mexico in spring, returns to South Florida in the eastern Gulf, and then on to the western Gulf in Mexico in fall.

Spanish mackerel is similar in appearance to king mackerel, or cero mackerel, although there is a difference in size. Brandon caught a large king mackerel, then he and David both caught about eight more Spanish mackerel. They caught a few more king mackerels, but they have to be a certain length to be keepers and they had to throw them back.

Spanish mackerel are generally quite a bit smaller than the king, however, one of the Spanish mackerels David caught was almost as big as the king that Brandon caught. One of the crew said he had been trolling those waters for 15 years, and it was the largest one he had ever seen.

Spanish mackerel are marketed fresh or frozen in fillets, as they are too small to sell as steaks. They may be prepared by broiling, frying, baking, grilling or smoking.

So other than cooking them the way I suggested above, here is another recipe you might want to try – even if you have to go and buy the fish at your local fish market!

Simple Spanish Mackerel
 

Spanish mackerel fillets

Extra virgin olive oil

Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic

Rub the olive oil over both sides of the fillet and let set a minute or two to soak in. To broil, place the fish on a broiler pan, skin side down, on the highest rack in the oven. Broil until fish flakes easily with a fork. Do not turn or flip the fillet.

To grill, place fillets in a well-oiled seafood basket. Place basket over very hot coals skin side up. Do not turn or flip, just cook with the skin side up.

Squeeze with lemon juice for extra zip.

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