Marinated Mackerel (oven baked)

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Oven baked mackerel with roasted capsicum, kumara chips, and crisp green beans

Mackerel are a great tasty fish, packed with Omega 3, that are often cheaply priced if you can find them fresh or frozen at a fishmonger.  These lovely fishies were only NZ$1.30 / USD$0.95 each. They can be served whole to adults for a fancy and filling meal or picked off the bones to serve to toddlers (do be careful to remove the little bones as well as the spine before giving to little ones!).

Ingredients

  • Whole mackerel
  • Salt
  • Neutral oil (like Rice bran oil)
  • Crushed garlic
  • Optional: Cider
  • Fresh basil (finely chopped)
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Fresh lemon

Allergy: soy free, dairy free, gluten free, peanut free, treenut free.

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Directions

  1. Make sure the fish have been well gutted and descaled; sometimes the fishmonger won’t have done a perfect job and you might need to do a bit more cleaning at home. Don’t worry too much if there are a few scales that are hard to get off  – they peel off easily once the fish is cooked (just remember to remove before serving!).
  2. Clean the fish thoroughly in cold water and pat down with salt (inside and out). Don’t use too much salt as you don’t want to over salt the dish.
  3. Using a sharp knife slice several slits along both sides of the fish.
  4. Mix up the marinade (oil, garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, and cider if you have it). Brush over the fish (inside and out) and pour into the pan.
  5. Cut up a fresh lemon. Make some thin wedges to put into the slits on the fish and some slices to put inside the cavity.
  6. Cover fish and marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours if you have the time.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200’C and bake the fish. Cooking time will depend on the size/thickness of the fish; these took about 20-25 minutes. Keeping the liquid in the pan helps the fish to cook quicker as it’s effectively braising.
    • If desired, you can flip the fish over after about 10 minutes. You can also grill for a few minutes at the end if you’d like crispier skin.

Roast mackerel for dinner

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Roast mackerel with dukkah

So I posted a while back about the cost effectiveness of buying a whole fresh fish and that I was going to cook it 3 ways. I’ve already posted about the easy fish pie and crumbed fish bites; this is a somewhat belated post about roasting it.

Ingredients

  • Fresh fish (gutted & scaled).
    • I used mackerel.
  • Oil (I use rice bran).
  • Lemon slices.
  • Optional: Dukkah

Allergies: soy free, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, peanut free, tree nut free* (depends on if you use the dukkah).

Directions

  1. Put fresh lemon slices inside the prepared fish.
    • You can roast/bake the entire fish if you want. We only needed a section of the fish and used the tail-end.
  2. Brush with a little oil so that it doesn’t stick and wrap in tin foil.
  3. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200’C. Cooking times will vary depending on the weight and thickness of the fish (so potentially 20-45 mins).

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    Baked mackerel

  4. If you’d prefer to crisp up the skin, prepare a hot oiled pan and fry it for a minute or two on each side. You may also add seasonings; I added dukkah to mine.

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    Crisped up in the pan

Home made fish and chips

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Red cod in spiced potato crumb with roast pork fat chips and rocket salad.

I knew Miss 2 would find today rough given that we had another hospital appointment and I wanted to give her something special for dinner. It’s days like today that I really miss having the option to up some kind of takeaways for dinner but her food allergies preclude it. So instead there was a trip to the fishmonger this morning to choose a fish and I went with the luxury of having him fillet the red cod for me rather than having a long messy job at home.

After finding potato flakes at a bulk buy store I’ve been really curious about what they can be used for. I’ve already used them in a delicious Chocolate Irish Potato Cake and I’d read that you could use them to crumb fish and apparently create the equivalent of a crispy hashbrown shell. I suspect that the hashbrown effect requires deep frying whereas I just lightly oiled my electric wok but the effect was delicious (and handy to know if you happen to be gluten free).

Ingredients

  • Filleted fresh fish
  • Flour (or superfine white rice flour)
  • Potato flakes
  • Seasoning: onion powder, smoked garlic salt, dried parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Oil (or rendered pork fat, i.e. from roasting pork sirloin)
  • Salad
    • I used rocket and parsley from the garden.

 

Allergies: soy free, gluten free, dairy free, peanut free, tree nut free.

Directions

  1. Wash and slice your potatoes.
    • I like to leave the skin on mine and I have to admit to being inspired by #MKR to do these flat style chips instead of a more traditional cut. They’re yum! The goal is to have them fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside so don’t cut too thinly.
  2. I put the potatoes in the steamer in the microwave for about 10 minutes to give them a bit of a head start before placing them in the roasting pan.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200’C.
  4. Spread out the potatoes on a roasting tray. Warm the potato fat in the microwave to turn it back into a liquid and pour it over the potatoes (or use oil). Crack a bit of salt over the top and pop them in the oven. They’re going to take about 40 minutes to cook which gives you time to prepare the fish or peg out washing etc..
  5. Dust a board or bench in flour. Whisk an egg in a bowl. In a different bowl mix potato flakes and seasoning. Lay the fish in flour, then egg, then season potato flakes.
  6. Add the fish to a hot oiled frying pan and cook for a few minutes on each side till served through. (You can shallow or deep fry if you prefer).
  7. Serve fish with chips, salad, and your choice of sauces.

Potato crumbled red cod

Preparing potatoes for roasting

Home made potato chips in roast pork fat

Potato crumbed red cod

Fresh Fish Pie (and how to make it quickly)



Ingredients

  • Deboned fish pieces (cut small).
  • Vegetables (cut small; i.e. around pea sized).
  • Cheese sauce.
  • Mashed potato.
  • Grated cheese.

Allergies: soy free, gluten free, egg free, nut free.

Directions

This is the kind of versatile dish that you can spend as much time on as you want. I also haven’t included amounts in the general ingredient list because quantities will vary depending on how many people you’re cooking for. This is how to make it so that you can just throw it in the oven at the end of the day.

  1. Prepare your fish on the day you buy it and put it in the freezer. I used fresh mackerel. It has a good texture and flavour when cooked (a bit like tuna). It tastes delicious in this recipe and it’s nice to know that a fish pie doesn’t require spending extra money to buy smoked fish. I used about 250g for this pie.
  2. In the morning (i.e. around breakfast time) lay the defrosted fish out in a casserole dish.
  3. Layer vegetables on top. I used about 1 cup of a frozen veggie mix of cubed peas, corn, carrots, and green beans. They’ll be defrosted by the time this goes in the oven in the afternoon.
  4. Layer cheese sauce next. I used a jar of Heinz (Cheese) Lasagne Sauce both for convenience and because my toddler has yet to like a cheese sauce I’ve made from scratch.
  5. Make mashed potato. I cooked 5 small yellow potatos (skin on) in the microwave and then mashed with milk, butter, salt, and dried onion.
  6. Layer the mashed potato on once it’s cooled. I actually rolled balls of it in my hands, flattened it, and then placed it on (so that I wouldn’t disturb the other layers to trying to flatten and spread it).
  7. Add grated cheese on top.
  8. Put in the fridge until the end of the day. You’ll need to pull it out about an hour before it’s needed.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180’C. Cook for 45mins and golden on top.

 

Meals on a budget – buy a whole fish

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I find it ironic that I live on an island nation and yet fresh fish are a luxury item because they are priced so highly at the big chain supermarkets (often $18-35/kg for fillets). Supermarkets also tend to stick a few popular fish like salmon, trevally, and tarakihi. Fish can be far more affordable by finding a local fish market or fishmonger and buying the fish whole.

Most places will offer at least basic services for free (like gutting, scaling, and top’n’tailing) and some will also fillet for free (although others have a small charge). With a whole fish you can get far more flesh when it is cooked and for a much better price. The central fish in the picture (with the dark speckling) are mackerel that were on sale for $5.99/kg. The whole fish was $9 and once the head, tail, fins, spine etc. were all removed and it had been prepared at home there was still 850g. That makes it an excellent price by comparison with fillets at a fish counter at the local supermarket.

It can also be fun at a fishmonger to look at the huge variety of fish and choose one that you haven’t cooked before. You’ll find that the fishmonger can give you some advice depending on what cooking method you’re aiming for. In general you’re wanting flatter, thinner fish if you’re wanting to braise or fry, whereas you want a thicker fish to bake or fillet.

In the case of the mackerel, I had the fishmonger remove the head, tail, and guts.


At home I just needed a sharp knife and time to remove the fins, spine, large radial bones, and pick out a number of the smaller bones.

I kept a small portion intact to bake, kept a number of long pieces to fry (these potentially had some small bones in them to help keep the shape), and a pile of small fleshy chunks (completely deboned) to make into a pie.

I put each of my three piles (intended for three different types of meal preparation) into freezer bags and annotated them with what was inside and how it needed to be cooked. That way I could pull them out when they were needed instead of stressing about making a special trip out to buy fish and then needing to cook it all in one go.

Salmon Fishcakes

Ingredients

  • Potatoes
  • Peas & Corn
  • Butter
  • Spices
  • Tinned salmon
  • Spring Onion
  • Creamy roasted garlic dressing
  • Egg
  • Flour
  • Panko Crumbs
  • Oil for cooking

Note: I don’t think I’ve made fishcakes before this, I’m not sure why. I think had vague concerns about needing fresh fish, or the salmon tasting too strong, or the  fact that I seem to be useless at cooking potatoes. Today’s very successful experiment was prompted by the fact that I had most of a tin of salmon leftover in the fridge and some new potatoes that I’d recently pulled from the ground. I was fairly certain that I could combine the two and googling ensued.  I looked at a number of recipes, ignored them apart from the basic precepts, and wandered off to see what I had in the kitchen.

The main thing in terms of ratios seems to be that there should be 30-50% more potato than salmon, apart from that it’s pretty flexible.

Directions

  1. Cook the potatoes. I used around 300g of new yellow potatoes (washed but skin on) that I cut up and boiled lightly in the microwave.
  2. Cook/defrost the peas & corn. I used up what was left in the freeer which was probably about 1/2 cup.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the cooked potatoes, peas & corn, butter, salt/spices (I used a Thai mix & garlic granules) and mash vigorously.
  4. Add tinned salmon (I used around 200g), chopped spring onion, and any dressing. Mix to combine. (I used a creamy roasted garlic dressing but you could try mayo, or red curry paste etc.)
  5. Mix in an egg to bind it. Mix in flour 1-2 Tablespoons at a time so that it’s moist but not horribly sticky.
  6. You can then choose to either (a) roll it into balls, squish into patties, coat in panko breadcumbs and then refridgerate, or, (b) refridgerate, then make into patties and go the full route of dipping them in flour > scrambled egg > breadcrumbs. Personally I went for (a) as a quicker option and it worked out fine. The main thing is that you want them cold when you fry them so that they hold together better.
  7. You can experiment a bit with cooking options. I fried them in batches in rice bran oil with the wok up high (basically to seal them and brown them) and then let them rest in the oven on a low heat.

They turned out really nicely, were tasty, and my toddler liked them too.

 

Allergens: Soy free; gluten free; peanut free; can be made dairy free (i.e. swap the butter for oil and replace/remove the dressing).