To be out on the sea with no other boats around...so beautiful.
Although we did meet this fishing boat - a slightly more professional operation than us.
Anything on the hook?
The catch - small but but lovely!
Salted fish on the smoker.
Lighting the burners.
The big reveal!
The result - and that amazing smell.
Home smoked Mackerel. Amazing.
Mackerel fishing. This must be one of the funnest things I know, and since I was given a smoker a few years ago I like it even more! Smoked Mackerel is on my top ten list of yummy things to eat, so to fish and smoke it myself...just the best.
We like to get up early, pack a breakfast basket with coffee and sandwiches and head out on the sea while most people are still in bed. This is not necessary at all, you would catch just as many fish any time of the day, but the getting up early bit adds some magic to the experience. The tools are incredibly simple, just four hooks and a weight on the end of a long line. We drive along very slowly at two or three knots, throw the lines in and wait. It is hard to know if there is anything on the hook - sometimes you can feel a definite tug but not always, so every so often you have to reel in and check. Seeing a shiny, white-bellied Mackerel on the hook feels like winning the lottery jackpot. My heart pounds when I pull a wildly wiggling fish out of the water.
To prepare the Mackerel for smoking, gut and clean them then season with salt inside and out. The smoker itself just needs some wood chips scattered on the bottom. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver both have tips on how to make a smoker out of a biscuit tin, but mine came from a shop. It has two burners underneath which you fill with spirit. Once lit, smoke will start to appear very quickly and soon the most wonderful smell spreads. These Mackerel were quite small and only needed about 12 minutes, larger fish would take a bit longer. Opening the lid and seeing those beautiful, golden, oily fish is great. And it makes you hungry. Let the fish cool down a bit then have a taste. Still warm home smoked Mackerel - in my book, not a lot could beat it!