Action Man's therapy is fishing. He normally catches flathead and kingfish, but occasionally comes home with what is known around here charmingly as slimy mackerel.
Slimies until pretty recently were considered bait fish. I've noticed our local fishmonger has started selling them, so I guess in these times of dwindling resources there is no such thing as the luxury of a bait fish.
We've always eaten whatever mackerel AM catches, normally smoked.Oily fish like mackerel is perfect for smoking. Here's how we do it...
You will need:
- A smoker - this looks like a big stockpot without a bottom. Inside there will be hooks for one or two racks and a flat plate that sits a couple of centimetres from the bottom. There will also be a small dish to hold methylated spirit. We bought our current stainless steel smoker from a fishing supplies store. A bit pricey, but they last longer than aluminium versions..
- Smoking chips - again from an outdoor/camping/BBQ store. Lots of different "flavours" of chips. We normally use hickory.
- Methylated spirit (white spirit)
- Salt and brown sugar
- Mix your salt and sugar in a ratio of 2:1 and rub into your fish fillets. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Wash off the salt/sugar mixture and pat dry as possible. If you leave much moisture on the fish it will steam instead of smoke.
- Place the flat plate into the smoker, cover with a handful or two of smoking chips.
- Place your fish onto the racks and place into the smoker a few inches above the smoking chips. Place the lid onto the smoker.
- Fill the small dish with metho and place on a suitable surface, preferably outside - concrete, stone, earth - not wood!) Ignite the spirit and place the smoker over the dish.
- Leave the smoker until the spirit has burned itself out. By now, your fish should be smoked.
NB. Jamie Oliver in "Jamie at Home" describes making a home made smoker using a biscuit tin and chicken wire for the inside racks. He then sits the tin on a gas hob. Haven't tried this method myself and don't know if I'd want to (I have visions of melting tins and fire brigades) but perhaps you're game.