Over the last few years my parents and their friends would go on these exciting fishing excursions off the coast of Maine. The friends have a boat so they can go anywhere and anytime. They generally go when the mackerel are running and this year they caught a large cooler full of them. They gutted the fish and kept them either in the refrigerator to be eaten right away or in the freezer to be eaten at another time. They probably bled some of these fish briefly but only during the cleaning process...a method they typically do not practice since they generally eat these fish cooked.
You bleed the fish when it is still alive by cutting the artery near the gills. You turn the fish with the belly up or facing you and cut either with a sharp knife or a pair of scissors deep into the tip of the upside "V" located between the gills. Let the fish bleed out for about 25-30 minutes on ice or in a cold place such as a refrigerator. This bleeding technique is used by the Japanese for sushi grade fish. It will help decrease the fishy odor when eating raw. After you bleed it then you can scale it and gut it. Luckily for me mackerel are scale-less. These mackerel that my parents gave me were kept frozen...ideal for eating raw. The process of freezing fish will make the environment less suitable for the parasites to survive. Although having said this you can never be too careful. If you have any health problems you should consult with your health care providers before consuming any raw seafood. One thing you should never ever do, no matter your health status is eat raw fresh water fish as they can carry harmful parasites that can infect you. If you are unsure on how to properly handle seafood to eat raw then let the experts do it and you should refrain from taking a chance. When I write "experts" I do not mean any fish mongers from any markets. Some supermarkets will have signs stating the fish is "sushi grade" but the workers may not have proper training in handling them. Poor handing of seafood, cross contamination of fresh water fish with sushi grade fish and eating any seafood or fish with parasites can cause you to become very ill or worse...dead.
I thaw 3 frozen mackerel (given to me by my parents) in a glass container in the refrigerator overnight for about 12 hours. After 12 hours I sprinkled about 1/4 cup of salt in the fish cavities and the exterior and kept them in the refrigerator for another 6 hours. Why thawing for 12 hours and salting for 6 hours you may ask. Well, I had to work...maybe even had to care for patients who had eaten poor handling of seafood for example! I fillet them into 6 pieces, remove all the bones that I could see and feel with my fingers, wash them well in cold water, and pat the pieces dry with paper towels. I then sprinkle another 1/4 cup of salt over the flesh of the fish. I refrigerate them for another 2 hours. I rinse the fillets several times in cold water to remove the salt. At this stage you can stick your nose close to the fillet pieces and there should be just a slight hint of the mackerel aroma. The final step is to submerge the pieces flesh down and skin side up in vinegar for about 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. The vinegar will "cook" the mackerel and makes the meat firm up. Hopefully after this treatment the fish should be a lot safer to eat. This post is for fresh caught mackerel, not for store bought mackerel. Remember, just because I eat this food does not mean it is safe for you to eat it too.
This time I fillet the fish by using a sharp knife starting from the head keeping my blade as close to the bones as possible and slicing in a steady position all the way down to the tail. I use this same method for the other side to get 2 beautiful fillets. You can keep the center bones to make a nice soup. See my previous post on How to Fillet Fish. Stay tuned for my next post on Saba Sashimi! YUM!
|My father caught 2 fish on one line!|
|wild mackerel |
|salted fish fillets over 2 hours|
|fish bones (may use to make a broth)|
|after the salt has been rinsed off in cold water|
|mackerel fillets submerge in vinegar|
|after soaking 2-3 hours in vinegar--|
the meat is firm and ready to eat