Marinated mackerel

“If people concentrated on really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.”

There are no words to describe how much I love this dish! My Dad deserves all praises for it. When our family was preparing for last Christmas, my only request for the menu was his marinated mackerel. I know the photos don’t do justice and I have not yet found the way how to portray the goodness of this food. I wish you could sense the smell of it through the screen. For today let’s focus on the taste!
On the days when the fresh fish is brought in (yes, I do live in a country, where we don’t have the luxury of getting fresh seafood any time we want), one can be almost sure that if there is not other kinds of fish left that you were hoping for, 95% of the time mackerel will be there lying on ice waiting for you! I think it is undeservedly unappreciated. Although I can understand why – it is quite “fishy”, so unless you know the right recipe how to get the best out of this gorgeous fish, most probably you’ll avoid choosing it. Well next time don’t!
I used to think that whatever requires marinating, it may be complicated. Trust me – it’s not! Yes, you would spend a bit more time until you can sit down and enjoy the food. That is the whole essence of marinating – for all flavors to come together, the longer the ingredients sit together, the better the dish turns out. It is oh so good and worth it! I’ll stop with my love confessions for this dish here.


* 2 mackerels
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
* 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
* 1 onion
* 2 carrots
* 200 ml balsamic vinegar
* 1 bay leaf
* 6-7 cloves
* 6-7 allspice
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1,5 tablespoons salt
* Sunflower oil
When passing a fish counter in the store, I always look out for mackerel. If they have some beautiful fish, I buy it and freeze it. My Dad has this perfect technique how to defrost and filet the fish without breaking it into pieces. When it is half way defrosted, he filet the fish by doing an incision below gills, then cutting horizontally along the spine. This way there’s no need to worry about getting the insides out.
Start with frying the cumin, caraway and coriander in a dry pan until you can really smell all of the spices. Add a few tablespoons of sunflower oil, 1 sliced onion and 2 sliced carrots. Once the onions are softened, add balsamic vinegar and some water (200 ml plus). Bring to boil. Add 1 crushed bay leaf, allspice and cloves. Let simmer on low heat until carrots soften. Add sugar and salt, let it dissolve and set the marinade aside to cool.

Fillet mackerel. Sprinkle with cumin and fresh ground pepper. Fry skin down first, then turn. Try not to turn it more – it will fall into pieces. Give it 2 minutes a side and rest assured this will be enough. Lay mackerel in marinade. Leave for at least 4 hours, in best case – overnight and enjoy!

It may be one of those dishes that I wouldn’t think of making for a weeknight dinner. I could however have it every weekend. I swear – every time I think of it, it makes me hungry. The combination of spices and variety of flavors to me personally makes it beyond simple.

Bon appetit!

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