Fish is not just a tasty food, but an extremely healthy one as well, providing a great alternative to red meats and offering a highly versatile ingredient for all manner of recipes.
Oily fish is a particular treat, not least because it’s classified as a superfood - and mackerel is one of the tastiest options.
Some think an ’oily’ fish means the stuff it comes in, like a tinned sardine in olive oil. In fact, the definition comes from the fish having a number of healthy oils containing fatty acids - specifically eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids - throughout their bodies. This is in contrast to white fish where such acids are only found in the liver (hence products like cod liver oil).
These fatty acids contain Omega-3 and have been linked with improved cardiovascular health, protection against cognitive decline and reducing the risks of some forms of arthritis and cancer. It is also very high in protein.
As well as Mackerel, other kinds of oily fish include tuna, herrings, salmon, whitebait, eels, pilchards and sardines. Mackerel is one of the finest options among these because of its taste and versatility.
There are actually around 30 species of mackerel, which are very varied in their characteristics. For example, the Pacific Jack is just a few inches long, while the King Mackerel can weigh as much as 100 pounds. Most of them have black stripes on their back, which are believed to help them spot each other in the water and gather together in schools.
King Mackerel , Atlantic Mackerel , Atlantic Horse Mackerel and Jack Mackerel are among the most common ones we eat, but all have the same fantastic flavours and great health benefits.
The BBC Food website has a number of recipe suggestions. These include accompanying the fish with horserashish potatoes, or brown butter potatoes and boiled eggs, or various accompaniments ranging from avocado, chilli and basil to a couscous salad.
Alternatively, mackerel can be added to a stew or soup, such as Moroccan couscous soup.
It all goes to show that mackerel is a wonderful centrepiece for dishes packed with flavour while offering great health benefits - and not many things we eat can offer that!