Generously seasoned mackerel cooked with a hint of warm Caribbean flare.
When it comes to seafood I’m quite partial to two things – shrimp (or prawns as the Brits call them) and fresh fish. Myself and my family consume fish throughout the year but for some reason you will find us going overboard with copious amounts of fish during the month of April.
Snapper, hake, blue marlin and parrot fish (some of you may not have heard on this one) were my absolute favourite type of fish to eat. My grandmother and mother would steam and/or sometimes fry the aforementioned which tasted like the best thing in the world to me. The fish was generously seasoned and cooked just to my liking – not greasy, just flavoursome with a crispy exterior.
It’s funny how people grow to appreciate certain things because I used to have a major fear of the bones in fish. My fear for bony fish continued as a young girl right up until adulthood. It was only when I began to pursue blogging that I actually relaxed my thoughts about fish bones. I even recall when first experience with eating a whole grilled snapper (bones included) wasn’t as scary as I had anticipated.
For this recipe I decided to use mackerel, simply because that was the fish that I had to hand at the time. It’s not my preferred fish due to the strong pungent smell but I do enjoy the taste/texture plus it’s low in fat and an excellent source of protein.
You can use almost any fresh fish such as;
- Sea bass
- Parrot fish (not widely available)
These are just a few of the types of fish which are suitable for this recipe. Upon purchase I had the fish monger remove the guts and scale the fish. This is something that you can ask any fish monger to do, so that you don’t have to endure the task yourself (I HATE doing it).
Similarly to other meat, I neutralise/clean the fish with salt, lime and sometimes vinegar. This is just the Caribbean method for cleaning the fish. I will get around to doing a tutorial post on how to clean meat (Caribbean style).
The fish is generously seasoned with my very own homemade fish seasoning recipe. It’s a favourite on mine and worked in unison with the mackerel (I haven’t tried the seasoning with any other type of fish yet).
Season the fish liberally, don’t hold back, the fish needs some seasonal TLC and fish seasoning that I have enclosed in this post is more than enough to use. I found that adding about 2 teaspoons of the seasoning to the actual stew helps to bring out the overall flavour.
I like fried fish just like most island people however, I want to live long and care about my health a tad bit more. Consequently, rather than fry the fish I choose to roast the fish in the oven while I prepped the ingredients for the Caribbean style stewed mackerel. It’s a completely different method to what I was taught – steamed or fried but keep in mind that my mission is to modernise Caribbean cooking and apart of that is to learn new methods and yield the same results.
Once the fish has been transferred from the oven, that is when I magic happens. The combination of the ingredients for the stew and homemade seasoning will merge into one in the pan. I suggest leaving the fish to simmer in the liquid for 20-25 minutes so the flavours are more enhanced and deeply penetrate the fish.
- 2 fresh mackerel, clean and scaled (see post)
- For the homemade seasoning
- 2tbsp of thyme
- 2tsp himalayan pink salt
- 2tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp coconut sugar
- For the fish stew
- 2 tsp homemade fish seasoning (see above)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 1 small tin of tomatoes
- 1 cup of bell peppers, mixed
- 1 whole scotch bonnet
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp himalayan pink salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2-3 pimento berries (or ½ tsp of allspice)
- ¾ cup of warm water
- Place the fish on a chopping board and using a chef's knife (or utility knife) slash the fish diagonally with a 3-4cm gap in between each slash. Be careful not to slash too deep into the fish cavity, just enough for the season to penetrate.
- Do the same slash and seasoning method to the other side of the fish.
- Allow the dry rub to infuse overnight or for at least several hours.
- Preheat the oven on 180c/gas mark 5
- Coat two large pieces of aluminium foil with melted coconut oil and wrap each mackerel tightly.
- Place on a baking tray and roast for 25 minutes (remove and set aside when done)
- As the fish is cooking in the oven, prepare the ingredients ready for the fish to be stewed.
- On low-medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large frying pan, then proceed to sautee the onion and garlic until translucent.
- Add the bell peppers and grated ginger and stir for 2 minutes.
- Then pour in the tomatoes and combine all of the ingredients.
- Add the pimento, scotch bonnet and season with fish seasoning, salt, pepper, thyme and parsley before adding ¾ cup of water.
- Use an egg spatula to carefully lower each fish into the pan.
- Increase the heat to high to bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer. Use a spoon to fully immerse the fish in the liquid.
- Cover with the lid and leave to simmer for 20- minutes on low heat. Check the liquid levels throughout this time and add ¼ cup of water if required.
- Once cooked, serve accordingly with rice.