Mackerel tartare

The rain has settled in now and looks as if it could be with us for the next few days.

But before it started seven mackerel were caught off Owen Island. Sadly they weren’t caught by me. But they were handed over so I could make a mackerel tartare.

The recipe had been cut out of The Financial Times magazine and sent to me years ago. Periodically I have come across and meant to have to hand the ingredients for making it but for whatever reason I have not got round to it.

I did so this year which is perhaps why we have caught so few mackerel the first week we were here.

The ingredients consisted of a cucumber, some cocktail gherkins and capers.

The mackerel were filleted down by the beach and the guts and bones fed to the birds. The recipe suggested the fillets should be skinned as well but having made a hash of skinning the one fillet I decided it would work just as well with the skin left on.

The fillets were put to one side whilst I cured some skinned and seeded cucumber in a mixture of salt and sugar.

The fillets were then chopped into small pieces and mixed with chopped gherkins and capers, the juice of one lemon, some olive oil and a good grounding on salt and pepper.

By the time this was done the cucumber was cured and I rinsed it and chopped it fine and stirred it into the mackerel mixture. It was all left to rest for an hour before being eaten.

It was fought over.

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The only mackerel in the bay

We were off the point from Owen Island not catching mackerel. There was a hard wind coming off the shore and grey clouds gathering round the back of Rosskerrig. Another boat slowed down near us and a voice shouted out “Any luck?”

I shook my head and shouted back “Not a thing.”

“We were here two hours yesterday and got a mackerel and three pollock.”

“You were lucky then we just got the one mackerel.”

“Where have they all gone?” he shouted back.

Just then there was a tug on my line and I felt the rush of a fish on hook.

“Here!” I shouted. “The bloody fish are here.”

There was one mackerel on my line and as the boat pulled of he shouted “The only mackerel in the bay!”

The Cowpat Competition

Sheep's Head Food Company

It is the Ahakista Festival in a few days time. There are some that may enjoy the rereading of this story of a festival from a few years back.

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It was the weekend before the festival and we were stood on the grass across the road from Arundel’s Pub. We stood in bright clear sunlight blue sky in front of and it was raining. Great drops being blown in from a cloud that hung over the hill behind.

‘Are you here for the festival?’ the man with the black beard asked me.

‘We are,’ I said ‘And I guess it is going to be busy this year?’

‘Oh it will be, it will be. There’s your famous neighbor doing the pub quiz on Friday night and there will be all sorts on Saturday and Sunday. But you know for the eighth year running they won’t be holding…

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Listening to Sister Ray

It could be that the best part of last nights drive across Ireland was during the long drag before getting to Fermoy. The rest of the family were slumped asleep in the car and the road stretched out unyielding in front of me. There were broken clouds in the sky that obscured a half moon. It was the kind of driving that could give over to sleep. All I had was the music that chopped and changed through the shuffle on my iPhone. It went quiet for a while and then I heard the thrum of New York guitar and the snide whine of Lou Reed’s voice and so I found myself listening to the ebb and flow of a 35 minute version of Sister Ray. It kept me going through the dark.

The sun has been shining today but there are few mackerel to be had.

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