NOW that the summer is high, and the mackerel close to shore, it is easy enough to go catch your dinner, or cheap enough to buy plenty from the fishmonger. Make sure your fish is really fresh, mackerel tends to suffer after a day or two, becoming a bit mushy and losing it’s firm flakes. Look for dark silvery blue skin, clear eyes and firm flesh. Mackerel is being overfished in the North Atlantic and so check the provenance, we are lucky to have friends and fishmongers who fish the nearby waters, at the moment not under duress.
Couple your fish with a chilled well priced viognier and a warm evening and you have the perfect summer dining.
Now that the gardens are flourishing, it would be a shame to not use the cornucopia of produce that are in season. We boiled up some fresh new potatoes from my in-laws garden, along with a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad, and laid the freshly bbq’ed mackerel on a thick bed of freshly cut pea shoots with some chopped mint dragged through, shook over some olive oil and aged balsamic, and poured the first glass of viognier as it landed on the table.
Mackerel works great cooked on the barbecue, even if you eat indoors, it saves the kitchen from smelling, and you can get the skin really crisp and delicious. I leave them whole and gutted, give them a good sprinkling of coarse sea salt over the skin and lay over the hot coals. Salt rubbed over any fish skin helps to dry it out and crisp up, releasing plenty of flavourful sweetness.
The Montevista Viognier reserva is a great pairing for Mackerel, you need a big flavour to match the oily fishes, especially when all those flavours are released on the bbq. This chilean wine has much of the flavours of more expensive french wines, with plenty of floral notes. It has been aged on the lees to really bring out the flavours, giving a lovely warm yellow colour, perfect to raise to the setting sun.
I got this wine from Oliver at North Coast Wines who is selling at a very reasonable price, although it is available from many outlets online if you are not in Bude.