• Fresh Cornish line caught whole mackerel (gutted) – one per person
• Sea salt
• Wood chips
• Smoking oven – this is a metal tray with a tight fitting lid and a grill that sits inside. There are lots of options available. The smoking oven can be heated over a gas hob or a bbq and some come with heaters that sit beneath the oven and burn methylated spirits.
There are many different ways to smoke fish and some have turned mackerel smoking into an art. I am a total novice to this method of cooking seafood but having witnessed it first hand last week I am a convert and will have to buy myself a smoking oven soon!
My cousin caught a load of nice fresh mackerel fishing off the rocks using feathers. In the summer months mackerel become pretty abundant around our coasts and line caught mackerel appears in fishmongers shops, can be bought online and delivered to your door, and is also sold from numerous stalls that spring up in laybys around the county selling fresh mackerel. Mackerel is extremely good for you and is sustainable as in Cornwall industrial fishing for mackerel is illegal thanks to the ‘mackerel box’ which means that they can only be caught using traditional handlines, usually with ‘feathers’, a line with several hooks that are made appealing to mackerel by the addition of feathers, silver foil or plastic strips.
It is recommended that you fillet your mackerel as soon as possible after catching / buying them. Remove the guts and wash well. The mackerel we smoked had their heads removed to better fit them in the smoker.
They were sprinkled in Cornish sea salt. Some people say its best to smother them in salt and to leave them in it for a few hours as it makes them more firm, however these mackerel were fresh as anything, caught the day before and refrigerated so we didn’t need to over do the salt.
The smoking oven is a steel tray with a close fitting lid. A handful of oak wood chips (there are lots of other types available) were scattered on the base of the tray, a steel drip tray covered the chips and the mackerel were then placed on a grill that fits into the tray. The lid is closed and the heat source ignited beneath the unit. In this case in the form of two small burners that run on methylated spirits. (It’s not something you could do indoors by the way!)
The smoker heated up and a bit of smoke started coming out.
In ten minutes the mackerel had been cooked to perfection and due to the smoke it had been coloured a delicious coppery shade! The meat came off the bone so easily and the texture was firm juicy and tasted delicious!
We ate it with a delicious summer salad and some seedy bread on the side.
I highly recommend giving mackerel smoking a go! Thanks Cousin Ben and Uncle Rae for showing me how!