Spanish mackerel Taco Tuesday
Hey, it’s Taco Tuesday, so why not enjoy some Spanish mackerel tacos?
By MATT STEVENS
Man on the Pier
Since everyone and their brother is catching Spanish mackerel right now, I figured this would be a good time to share one of my favorite ways to prepare them: fish tacos.
This is an easy recipe, and can also be easily modified to adapt to your personal tastes. For all practical purposes, a nice-sized Spanish around 20 inches or bigger will feed two people.
Cut your mackerel fillets (see below for preparation) into bite-size pieces suitable for tacos. Season them on both sides with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and red pepper. Place some flour in a bowl, and toss the pieces until they are lightly coated. Shake off any excess flour before frying.
The secret to pan-frying mackerel, or any fish, is to make sure the oil is as hot as can be before you drop the fish in. Using vegetable oil, I wait until it starts to smoke just a little on high heat before putting the pieces in. Fry the pieces until they are crispy on the outside and golden brown. Remove and pat dry with a paper towel.
Everyone’s taco preferences are different, but here’s how I make mine:
Small flour tortillas, warmed in a frying pan
Diced fresh jalapeno
Shredded cheddar cheese
***Publix Deli Salsa, Medium or Hot (this is the best salsa!)
Frank’s Red Hot to taste
Fresh limes to squeeze on top
Optional, but recommended: An ice-cold Corona or two with a lime to enjoy with your tacos
HANDLE WITH CARE
From landing to the table, mackerel are great eating if you handle them right. These fish need to be iced almost immediately after being caught. Make a cut through the gills and bleed the fish, gut it and pack it in ice. This will ensure that the flesh stays firm until you’re ready to fillet it. This not only helps with the filleting process, but also helps preserve the meat. Mackerel are best enjoyed the same day they are caught.
To fillet mackerel, make a cut at a 45-degree angle inward behind the head and work the blade down the length of the fish using steady pressure and a back-and-forth motion — visualize playing a violin. Flip the fish over and repeat, then do the same to remove the skin.
There are a line of tiny bones that sit in the middle of the fillet starting at the side closest to the head, but those can be taken care of easily. Just make a cut with your fillet knife on one side of the line of bones, then come back and make another cut on the other side and remove the strip that contains the bones. That cut will also take care of most of the bloodline, but also remove any red meat that remains.
Until next time, hook ’em up and fight ’em hard. Fish on, fellow anglers.