How to cure a smelly fish

25 Jan
Sometimes the best things just sneak up on you. Or, they could swim.
Take these mackerel. Furthest thing from my mind when I walked into the fish store the other day. Absolutely the best thing I came out with.
A lot of people don’t like the mackerel. “Too oily,” I have heard them complain. “Too fishy.”
Imagine that. A fish that tastes like a fish!
As my consigliere (of undisclosed ethnic origin) Gloede would say, Ach du Lieber!
Calm down, Glodes, pour yourself another Strega. I got this one.
See, I happen to like a fish that tastes like its oily, smelly self, and am specifically fond of the mackerel (saba at the sushi bar; possibly my fave, but don’t tell that to the uni).
If you are a fan of the fish (and the olive oil and the garlic), then you will want to try this recipe for “oil-cured” mackerel. It is shockingly easy to prepare (trust me on this), and will keep in the fridge for awhile.
Best of all, it will be of no interest whatsoever to people who want their sea creatures to taste like land-based proteins that reside in coops or, if they are lucky (the protein sources, I mean), roam “free” in “ranges.” Which will mean more of the tasty fishes for you.
Though not, evidently, for me. I put these mackerel out as an hors d’oeuvres the other night, along with a whole bunch of other cool stuff, and they were the very first thing to disappear. They went so fast, in fact, that all I got to do was dip a couple hunks of bread into the olive oil where the fish had once been swimming. Which is not such a bad thing, I’ll admit, but still…
Just my luck to be running with a bunch of smelly fish eaters.
I need some new friends.

Oil-cured mackerel
Recipe from La Cucina Italiana
1 medium onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, halved widthwise
1 celery stalk, halved widthwise
5 sprigs fresh marjoram
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 pounds whole mackerel, heads and tails removed (I left them on)
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (I may have upped this a bit; okay, I did)
3-4 cups extra-virgin olive oil (I used less)
Cover onion, carrot, celery, marjoram, rosemary and bay leaf with cold water by 3 inches in a 4- to 5-quart pot; add wine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add mackerel, return stock to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and let mackerel cool to room temperature in stock.
Transfer mackerel to a cutting board; remove and discard skin and bones. Transfer fish to a bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and garlic, then add oil to cover by 1/2 inch. Chill in refrigerator, covered, for at least 12 hours and up to 10 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

11 Responses to “How to cure a smelly fish”

  1. Fred January 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    How about bluefish, another species burdened with the stigmata of fishiness? Think those tasty choppers would fare well with this recipe?

  2. Mister Meatball January 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    You are speaking my language, Fred. For the blue is my favorite of all fishes. Even did it gravlax style once, and it was fab. As to your question, I can't imagine this recipe not working with a blue. Though of course you'll need a bigger pot!

  3. Claudia January 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    I will confess to being a halibut fan. Which I cannot afford to be. I also like a good blue fish. I don't know if fresh mackerel exists here (all right, in winter no you need to ice fish to get any fresh fish) but you know – if you're upping the garlic and reducing the olive oil – I'll eat just about anything prepared in that manner.

  4. Big Dude January 25, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    This sounds great to me. I live with one of those folks you mentioned and often tell her she just needs to eat chicken

  5. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti January 26, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    My brother loves to go fishing and often catches a lot of blue fish ..another oily \”fishy\” fish. I'll remember this recipe next time he gives me some!

  6. Proud Italian Cook January 26, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    I confess I'm not a fan of fishy tasting fish, but then again if it's swimming in olive oil and garlic I'm sure I'd be like one of your friends!

  7. Lea Ann January 27, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    I have never ever had mackeral. The recipe sounds pretty darn good.

  8. Thomas Henry Strenk January 27, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    I hate fish. Can't imagine an even fishier fish than most. Ugh!Where's the beef?

  9. Jeannie January 28, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    I don't eat fish much, not because I don't like it, more because I don't like to cook it…messy and greasy stuff and always attract the flies! urgh! I love it though, when someone else cook them for me:D

  10. MaryMoh January 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Count me in…I love these lovely fish. They are so good grilled which I always do..with sprinkles of oil, salt and pepper. Your way of cooking it is very interesting. My gosh…that's a lot of oil used! Do you drink the oil together?

  11. Amy February 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    There's not a lot better than a whole mackeral wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill. A tad bony, but delish!

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