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Mackerels have valuable nutrients; can be cooked in tasty ways

makerelAlmost every day at the Victoria Market or elsewhere in various districts, mackerels are available in abundance. One would think that they are the least expensive fish available in Seychelles but this is not really the case. Nowadays mackerels are getting so costly that people sometimes cannot afford them, although Seychellois love mackerels. Will you buy a packet of eight mackerels for R50? Consumers believe that’s too expensive for this type of fish that once upon a time were given away for free or cost a mere R10 per packet!

When money is scarce and they cannot afford more expensive or other edible popular fish, Seychellois always believe they could afford a packet of mackerels as it is considered the cheapest fish among others. Is that still the case and is mackerel really the lowest quality fish among the lot? Open discussion.

We should get rid of this perception that mackerels are the lowest quality fish available as they can be cooked in numerous ways that add real value to the fish. It should not be just the usual grilled, ‘bouyon’ or fried menus that we Seychellois normally cook. This article brings you on a discovery tour of the nutritional values of mackerels and the various tasty ways they can be cooked.

 Why you should eat mackerels

There are many reasons why you should eat more fresh mackerel. It is packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids and other valuable nutrients; it is a fairly inexpensive fish to buy in relation to other popular edible species and the number of tasty ways in which you can cook and serve it is staggering. If you are not in the habit of eating fresh mackerel after informing you of the many possible delicious mackerel recipes that can easily be prepared and enjoyed at home, you may just find that you love the fish very much.

Mackerel – like all types of fish – is always best eaten fresh. If you are fortunate enough to be able to go mackerel fishing and catch your own supply, clearly you won’t have a problem in this respect. If not, however, you will have to find a way of ensuring the mackerel you do buy is as fresh as possible.

Tips for choosing fresh mackerels

Look for mackerel with clear eyes (not glazed and red) and bright purple gills. If possible, smell the fish. Contrary to what may be popular belief, fresh fish does not smell of fish – only fish past its best smells that powerful. Instead, fresh mackerel should smell slightly salty, of the sea from which they have recently been caught.

 How to clean and gut mackerel

Mackerels are a very easy fish to clean. You will probably find this easiest to do this at your sink as it is best to have some cold running water close to hand and the mess is easier to clean up afterwards.
Hold the mackerel in your weaker hand, belly side up and head furthest away from you. Carefully insert the point of a very sharp knife at the small opening slightly behind centre and slit all the way up the centre of the belly to the head. Lay the knife down and with your fingers, pull out the contents of the belly cavity and discard. Wash the mackerel under a gentle stream of cold water and it is ready to be cooked.

 How to poach mackerel

Poaching mackerel by this method is not by any means the quickest way of cooking it but it may be the safest, in terms that it is easy and as foolproof as any cooking method can ever be.  Begin by laying the whole, gutted mackerel in the base of a large cooking pan. Don’t cook too many at a time in the same pan as there has to be room for plenty of water. Pour in enough water to ensure all the mackerel are comfortably covered. Season very well with salt. The water should be as salty as the sea.

Put the pot on to a high heat, just until the water begins to boil. Turn off the heat immediately and carefully move the pot to a cool section of your cooker. Put the lid on the pot and leave it alone for a couple of hours. The mackerel will cook to perfection in the cooling water, leaving them juicy, succulent and tender.

 How to fillet mackerel

There are two principal ways in which it is possible to fillet mackerel and other similar fish. When you buy mackerel fillets, it is likely that the fish will have been filleted by cutting it open the length of its belly and essentially pressing down on the backbone to flatten the fish and free the backbone. The problem with filleting mackerel this way is that the flesh can often be damaged when removing the main bone and the number of smaller bones left intact can be considerable. This either means a great deal of extra work with tweezers or running the risk of getting a bone stuck in your throat when you eat the fish.
Given the above information, the second method involves taking the fillet off either side of the mackerel. It is much quicker and easier, the flesh remains in pristine condition and there are fewer small bones left in the fillets.
Before you even contemplate trying this out for yourself, however, you will have to make sure you have a proper filleting knife. You will not be able to do this with just any kitchen knife, however sharp. The reason for this is that filleting knives are not only extremely sharp, the blade is flexible, allowing you to make the required manoeuvres to take the fillets from the fish. If you want anything approaching best results when filleting fish – just like in so many other situations in life – it is necessary to have the proper tools for the job.

 Mackerel is a sustainable species of sea fish

There are many species of fish in waters around our planet that are at present desperately endangered, due more than anything else to mankind’s actions in many different ways and the eating habits of consumers. Mackerel is presently deemed to be sustainable so this makes mackerel an all round perfect choice for your dinner table.

As stated before mackerels can be cooked in several tasty recipes. Just surf the internet and you’ll be amazed!  To name a few:

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