Some Basics on MackerelMackerel is one of several types of fish that tends to be oily, in a good way. This oiliness is due to the high quantity of omega-3 fatty acids within its meat; the sort of stuff that is good for the health of your heart. Even if you have no interest in the health benefits of something like mackerel, it also happens to have a great taste. When it comes to preparing mackerel for the smoker, there are two useful things to know about the process.
- The bones are surprisingly easy to remove, mitigating any of the normal fuss from dealing with other oily fish like sardines or herring. Sometimes you get all of the bone in one attempt.
- The high oil content means that it is quite resilient to drying out on the smoker and is a great reason to smoke mackerel should you come into possession of some.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Hot Smoked MackerelProvided below are several examples of healthy smoked mackerel recipes, including one bbq mackerel recipe. One thing that will become very obvious is that every good smoked mackerel recipe requires preparing the fish with a brine and seasonings.
Recipe #1: Smoked Mackerel AppetizersIngredients and Components
- Mackerel, 4
- Water, 1/2 gallon
- Salt, kosher, 1.2 lbs.
- Cocktail sticks
- Mix the salt and water into a large pan to create a brine, using heat to dissolve the salt.
- Transfer the brine into a bucket large enough to accommodate the mackerel.
- Once the brine has cooled to room temperature, completely immerse the fish into brine for 90 minutes. Use a plate to keep the fish beneath the brine level.
- Use fresh water to rinse the fish clean of brine and hang it out to dry overnight in a cool and dry area. You might consider threading a hook through the eyes and hanging the fish from it. As for storage spots, you may be able to rely on the food chamber of your smoker, depending on the local temperature, but you can always resort to the fridge.
- Cold smoke the fish at 100°F for 4 hours, immediately followed by 2 to 3 hours of hot smoking at 200°F.
- The fish will be done when it takes on a golden brown color and reduces to 75% of its original weight.
- Carve the fish up into pieces and serve on skewers.
Recipe #2: BBQ Smoked Mackerel
- Mackerel, whole
- Salt, sea
- Chips, wood, smoking
- Ensure that the fish have been gutted, clean with cold water and dried out. A reliable fishmonger can perform this step for you.
- Soak the wood chips in water for one hour. While any wood works, use a variety you prefer when it comes to fish.
- Coat the interior and exterior of your fish with salt and let it rest in a dish for 45 minutes. This will slightly dry out the fish, preventing a mushy final product.
- Rinse the fish free of salt and dry it once again.
- Insert a foil sheet, molded to have a rim, beneath your charcoal rack, right beneath where the fish will go. The sheet should be filled with water.
- Fill the remainder of your grill with charcoal, open the vents and ignite the coals. Keep the vents located beneath the water tray closed. Give the grill time to evenly heat up the coals.
- Place the fish on the grill, above the water tray and add a single handful of wood chips to the coals. Place the lid over the grill and close the vent above the coals, remembering to keep the vent directly above the fish open.
- Cook for 45 minutes. If done right, you will have a light trickle of white smoke leaving the grill. If smoking stops, you may need to add more wood or coals.
- The finished fish will be white throughout, be incredibly tender and have an amazing taste.
Recipe #3: Lemon-Pepper Mackerel with Dijon
- Salt, kosher, 1/4 cup
- Sugar, white, 1/4 cup
- Mackerel, fillets, 1 lb, with skin, 4
- Pepper, black, fresh ground, 2 tbsp
- Mustard, Dijon, 1 tbsp
- Juice, lemon, 2 tbsp
- Chips, hardwood, 1.5 cups
- Soak the hardwood chips in enough water to cover them. Leave them to soak anywhere from 1 to 24 hours.
- Combine the kosher salt and white sugar into a bowl, then sprinkle each side of the fish with this mixture.
- Allow the fillets to sit and soak in the salt and sugar for 30-40 minutes. If you happen to be preparing your mackerel during a particularly hot period of time, consider refrigerating it during this process.
- Combine the pepper, Dijon mustard and lemon juice.
- Rub the lemon-pepper-mustard seasoning mix into the fillets and allow them to marinate for another half hour.
- Remove the racks from your grill and start a small fire.
- Once the coals heat up, slide them to one side of the grill, cover with the water-soaked wood chips, then replace the racks.
- Drain the fish of any liquid and brush any undissolved rub away. Move the fillets to a foil sheet. Make sure that the sheet is large enough to seal up the fish from all angles.
- Place the fillet-laden sheet of foil on the non-coal side of the grill, you are cooking it with indirect heat.
- Pike a few small holes in the foil, so that the fish can “breathe” as it cooks, and cover the grill, leaving only a single vent un-closed.
- Check the fish to see if it is done after 15 minutes of smoking. You will know that the fish is ready if it flakes to the touch of a fork near its edges. The fish will be firm, opaque and shiny in appearance.
Recipe #4: Lemon-Butter Smoked Mackerel on Potatoes
Since we have already presented a handful of ways to go about smoking mackerel, this recipe shows one approach you can take to bring your fish to the next level of flavor.
- Mackerel, fillets, smoked, 6
- Butter, 3 tsp
- Juice, lemon, 3 tsp
- Potatoes, peeled, 3 lbs.
- Salt, kosher
- Butter, 1 stick plus 2 tbsp
- Milk, 1/2 cup
- Cream, sour, 1/2 cup
- Pepper, black, fresh ground
- Preheat your oven it to 392°F.
- Arrange the fillets over a square of aluminum foil.
- Liberally apply the lemon juice and butter to the fish.
- Fold the foil over itself, crimping along the edges in order to make a sealed vessel of fish.
- Transfer the foil-sealed fish to a baking sheet and leave it to cook in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Extract the tray from the oven.
- Transfer the properly cooked fish from the tray to a heated plate.
- Submerge your potatoes in water within a large pot, adding a generous amount of salt.
- Bring the pot to a boil and cook the potatoes until they completely soften, roughly 17 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot.
- Use a masher on the potatoes until they smooth out.
- Use a small saucepan to melt the stick of butter and warm the milk.
- Pour the warm dairy mix into the mash and stir until everything is evenly blended and creamy. Add sour cream until the mixture is fully integrated.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mash to a serving bowl, topped with the last 2 tablespoons of butter and season with black pepper.
- When serving the potatoes, place one fillet on top.
- Serve and enjoy!
While smoking mackerel, or any other fish for that matter; is not a very complicated process, it can still be done poorly. Presented above are a quartet of approaches and applications to smoking mackerel. The good news about this sort of cooking is that once you get the hang of smoking mackerel, you can easily tweak the approach when considering any other sort of fish you might want to send to the smoke box; the main thing to consider is how oily the fish happens to be and how fiddly its bones can be to manage. Give one of these recipes a go and see just how swimmingly things go.