Freshly Fried Mackerel Fillets
One of my favourite breakfasts, and one I think cannot be beaten, are freshly caught Atlantic Mackerel fillets fried in butter, served with buttered toast or bread.
There is nothing more delicious to set you up for the day. This simple recipe will show you how to make the perfect mackerel fry.
Atlantic Mackerel Fish
Atlantic mackerel, also know as Boston, Norwegian and Scottish mackerel (scomber scombrus) is a shoaling fish found in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the North Atlantic. It is a wonderful fighting fish and great fun to catch from the rocks or a boat.
The mackerel is a beautiful fish with camouflage colouring’s, has a strong taste, and is an oily fish with plenty of nutrients, making it a healthy fish to eat. It is also, more importantly, sustainable.
How to catch mackerel
My summer holidays for many years were spent in Cornwall in the South West of the UK. Every year we would try our luck from the rocks with our feathers and floats in the hope that we would catch some delicious Atlantic mackerel.
Some days were more lucky than others, but the summer months are the best time to catch mackerel on this side of the pond.
The easiest way to catch mackerel though is from a boat trolling with feathers or lures. You simply drop your line in the water to the bottom and reel up slowly. Mackerel are a shoaling fish and you may well get three or four fish on at once if you are lucky.
But if you can find a good safe fishing spot on the shore, then I like to use a mackerel rig up with a float, weight, swivel and tracer and a sand eel (or mackerel) as bait, with the hook through the head of the sand eel. They always tend to attack the head first.
The mackerel has a sharp bite, meaning you can easily tell the difference when you have a mackerel bit compared to that of a pollack, for example. The float will disappear without any warning – a direct strike!
You can also catch them from the shore trolling with a lure or feathers.
They are a great fighting fish and fun to catch from the rocks.
How to fillet a mackerel
I have seen mackerel filleted both ways, from the tail to the head and vice versa. But I think the most common method is from the head towards the tail. You make a cut just behind the pectoral fin on the side with a very sharp knife until you reach the backbone.
Then slowly draw the knife towards the tail, running it along the backbone, taking as much meat as you can. Then do the same on the other side. You can throw the remains of the carcass to the seagulls, wash the fillets from any stomach contents that may have remained and you are ready to cook.
Make sure that you have removed all the bones, especially around the stomach cavity where a few may remain if you are not careful. These can be fished out with a sharp-pointed knife. Also cutting a thin line down the middle of the meat side of the fillet, as you can see in the photos above, will help remove any bones that exist down there.
How to cook a mackerel fry
This recipe is so simple. You clean and dry the fillet before covering it in some seasoned flour. Then the fillet is pan-seared in a skillet in a mix of butter and olive oil on both sides until crispy and cooked.
When the fish is really fresh, caught the same day or next day, then there really is nothing better. If you need to keep the fillets in the fridge overnight, just store them on some kitchen paper and wrap in some tin foil to keep them fresh.
This really is one of my all-time favourite simple recipes. I hope you can get your hands on some really fresh Boston Mackerel and give it a go.
I have just found someone who sells mackerel fresh (caught the same morning) outside our local pub every day, so I am very happy. This was this morning’s breakfast!
Let me know how you get on in the comments section below!
Mackerel Fry Recipe
Friday 22nd of July 2022
A local Japanese grocery store in my area has all kinds of wonderful kobe beef and exotic seafood (pricey, of course)... and among the wide range of choices, some mackerel fillets. VERY cheap, too! Half mackerel (gutted and mostly deboned) medium size, for about $3.75. On a lark, a picked up one to see how it tastes after cooked (prior to this, I've had sushi grade raw mackerel). Followed this tip on lightly flouring the fish, cooking in butter & olive oil. Turned out great and super delicious! Just have to be careful of some fine bones that proved elusive in the preparation.
Monday 29th of August 2022
Glad you enjoyed. Yes you do have to look out for the little bones though. Perhaps I should make a video of how to fillet a mackerel....?
Sunday 26th of June 2022
Thanks for all of you info on Mackerel I never cared too much for it as I thought it was too oily a fish. My friend just had a plate of fresh caught Mackerel from the atlantic in front of his home and it will be his Sunday dinner. It was my grandmother's favorite fish and I wanted to be sure I cooked it correctly for him. I have a cast iron skillet that will do very nicely for this dish.
Friday 6th of May 2022
I'm new to mackerel and just got my hands on some from my local fish monger. This looks simple and delicious. Going to try it straight away. Thanks for sharing!
Wednesday 11th of May 2022
@Gav, It was delicious. Simple preparation, very tasty results. Mackerel is such a great fish!
Friday 6th of May 2022
Hope it worked out! I love mackerel. Brought up eating it as a kid on holiday in Cornwall.