Skinning mackerel

This time last year I only two weeks to wait from the beginning of July until we were off to Ahakista. Sitting here now we are not going until the middle of August so I still have a full six weeks to wait.

By way of whetting the appetite I have been sent a few ripped pages from The Financial Times  Weekend Magazine which someone thought would have a a couple of recipes I might think worthwhile. It does!

My eye was caught by a recipe for  Mackerel Tartare. It comes from the Polpo Cookbook, which I have and have enjoyed cooking from, but for whatever I reason I had not noticed this before.

So long as I make sure I bring the right ingredients with me it should be a doddle to make and I am never going to have fresher mackerel to make it with. The list of things to make sure I have will only need include a small jar of capers and a similar sized jar of gherkins.

I will need to catch two good sized mackerel, fillet them and skin them. Filleting them won’t be a problem but I have never skinned a mackerel fillet before. The knives should be sharp enough to be up for the job but I may need to make sure I catch a few extra fish in case I make mess of it at first.

The making of it involves dicing the mackerel, marinading half a skinned and seeded cucumber in sugar and salt for an hour, chopping a handful of gherkins and capers and then mixing all together with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. There will need to be lots of tasting for seasoning.

We will eat it with good bread from Bantry Market with a beetroot and horseradish pickle.

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Suggested activity

It had been warm all day and over lunch the sun had come out over the Cottage and we ate outside – although all-around there were clouds – we seemed exempt and the air over the Cottage stayed a clear blue. Late in the afternoon moving towards evening a pale low cloud came over but when you looked directly up there was still a hint of blue sky.

There were three boats fishing for mackerel off Owen Island on the incoming tide and a shallow golden mist had fallen over the Mizen. Having fallen it seemed to rise again. It was gold as the sun caught it adding other colours and depth so that behind Carberry Island it became impossible to tell what was cloud and what was the faint glimmer of the Mizen Head. After a few minutes it cleared so that the Mizen and its mountains rose above the line of mist floating over the water inbetween.

I could see them standing in the boats as they came in, and that suggested activity in turn suggested that in the twenty or so minutes whilst the light and cloud had played over the bay mackerel had been caught.

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Catching fish today

There is a whole world of difference between those things you’ve done and those things you remember. So tell me again when did you catch your first mackerel?

The only mackerel worth catching are the ones that are out there.

You don’t know where I am talking about? Look out of the window and look at the water. That’s where the mackerel are. There’s little point in casting your mind back to some place in the past when you think you might have pulled a couple of them out of the sea. That’s just nostalgia and being afraid.

Take yourself out there and see what you can catch today.

There is no better fish than the one you have just caught. If it is on the line and you are pulling it in that will be the only fish you will ever want. And if there is more than one on the line, if you’ve had some luck and they have taken a go at each of your six hooks feck that is only going to make for a better day.

And the mackerel you catch tomorrow may as well not be there. If you wait until then all the fish might be gone. So take yourself out there and catch some fish today.

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