Home Sea food Sustainable Seafood: Bring Back the Mack

Sustainable Seafood: Bring Back the Mack


By Nathan Brindle | January 27, 2022

Is sticky mackerel a premium seafood? You bet!

IN this article, I want to express that all species of fish should be considered premium seafood and that the “premium” label should be used as the degree of care taken in shipping, storing and cash preparation instead of a commercial industry marketing tool.

The Seafood Source website describes premium seafood as “seafood containing attributes that push product preference above normal demand.” Through research, they concluded that premium seafood is a marketing term that can reflect attributes such as price, sustainability, brand image, harvesting method, and origin. Consumers dictate importance based on the cultural or historical use of the species; and popularity differs greatly depending on the cultural heritage of the consumer.

It is completely acceptable for everyone to have a favorite species of fish that they prefer to eat. When you make the decision to harvest your own fish, you give yourself the opportunity to focus on the species you prefer to eat, one of the many beautiful things about harvesting your own fish.

Australia is fortunate to be surrounded by a variety of fish that fall under the traditional definition of ‘premium seafood’. This can result in a dogmatic appreciation of what is considered a quality table. If you’ve been fishing long enough, you’ve surely seen a change in the distribution of popular species, leading to an increased reliance on electronics, longer runs offshore, and closer consideration of peak windows to improve your chances. and counter the increase in fishing pressure.

Fish stocks may never return to the good old days, but the self-examination of spreading your own interest in a variety of table species will have a positive effect on future fish stocks in your area.

My experience and conversations with different anglers could be summed up by the saying “don’t hit it until you try it”. Popular cultural opinion generally dictates how the quality of a species table is determined. If it’s swimming in the ocean, I guarantee someone somewhere has recognized it as a prized possession and figured out the best way to use it.

Two species widely considered as bait are the “glutinous” Atlantic mackerel and the yellowtail “yakka”. With a few simple techniques, these bountiful species can be used effectively to create many dishes. My favorite way to eat them is to flick the fish around so you’re left with easy-to-eat boneless fillets. When it comes to slimes and yakka, it’s important to take care to bleed and stock enough of these delicate-fleshed fish.

Like most of you I use them primarily as live bait so I almost always have them on hand and find the perfect time to quickly tend to my fish by bleeding and icing them while waiting for the trailer of the boat is recovered. They are small, so I usually store them in large sandwich bags and dip them in the ice slurry to make them at home so they create minimal mess.

I’m going to show you how to flutter this blue mackerel, but the same process can be adapted to almost any fish and most certainly your yakka.

The second image illustrates the first three steps of the procedure. First I give a small scale under and around the pectoral fin as there are small scales in this vicinity.

Second, I use a small knife along the back of the fish. The picture shows the angle I make the incision in the fish using an acute angle you can use the whole blade to effectively create a clean incision. I cut the fillet away from the frame on both sides of the fish down to the vertebrae. In the third step, I split the head with scissors starting at the crown and cutting down the jaw line.

The third image shows one of the fillets completely removed from the frame.

Note that I did not penetrate the skin on the underside of the fish, the tip of the knife demonstrates the maximum depth of cut required for both sides of the fish. The scissors show where the rib bones connect to the vertebrae. I use the scissors to cut the junctions being very careful not to cut into the intestinal cavity as piercing will create unwanted damage.

The fourth image shows the guts and frame of the fish completely removed, I achieve this by cutting through the spine at the tail and behind the head.

Once these cuts are complete, the entire frame should easily detach from the radial cartilage of the anal fin, which is also why I chose to fish the butterfly this way as the spine pulls away from the bottom of the fish much easier than she does from the top.

Then remove the gills by making a cut where the tip of the scissors rests on the picture, this is the point where the gills connect to the lower jaw after this cut they can be simply pulled out of their gill cavities.

Finally, take out the ribs in one piece by cutting them from the fillets; for me, slipping a knife behind the ribs and then back up away from the pin bone works best. By cutting up rather than down across the joint of these bones, you reduce the chance of cutting too far into your fillets and damaging them.

The mackerel is now ready to be dried and marinated. I always do this before removing the pinbones because the curing process firms up the flesh, making it easy to remove the pinbones with tweezers. The basic remedy I use is 2 parts salt to 1 part sugar. Any type of salt and sugar will do, just pack them in a container covering the butterfly fillets. You can also add any spices you like, crushed coriander seeds are always a treat.

I leave the butterfly fish in the cure for 45-50 min in the fridge, you will notice that the fillets will have given off a little moisture when you take them out of the cure. Rinse quickly in cold water and immerse them in a pickle. The pickle is made from 3 parts ice water to 1 part vinegar. I always use brown rice vinegar or sushi vinegar for their balanced seasoning. Immerse your fillets in the pickle for 15 minutes, when done, remove and dry the fillets with paper towel.

The fillets are now ready to eat however I still caramelize the skin. The easiest way to do this is to use a torch. You can also use a hot barbecue or frying pan. I take it a step further by first brushing the skin with a liquid condiment like honey soy marinade before caramelizing. It’s great for flavor and also helps the skin caramelize quickly, as mackerel is best served rare to medium-rare.

Slimy mackerel, beautifully prepared and cooked, ready to eat!

The condiments in the last image are fermented hot sauce (anything spicy and sour will be fine), cucumber, pepper, and lemon. Ultimately, this technique is very functional and can be eaten with whatever condiments you prefer with fish.

For the yakka I use the same cutting and marinating process, the fish in the picture was breaded then shallow fried skin side down in cottonseed oil until fully crispy and served on white bread with tonkatsu sauce.

Tonkatsu sauce is made by reducing by two-thirds ¼ cup sake and ¼ cup apple juice then, while the sauce is still hot, adding ¼ cup worchestershire 2 tbsp soybeans, 2 tbsp sauce tomato, 2 tablespoons of honey, ½ small grated onion and 2 cloves of grated garlic. Once you’ve added the grated onion and garlic, immediately remove the sauce from the heat and allow to cool.
I use shredded cabbage and mayonnaise for the filling.

Fortunately, as fishermen, we have broken the traditional supply chain of everyday consumers. This gives us the perfect opportunity to dodge the marketing and mismanagement that occurs in the seafood supply chain. As well as breaking down culturally imposed ideologies of quality and giving species the care and respect they deserve, from capture to consumption.

Bottom line: a good cook can use premium seafood, a great cook can use anything and make it premium.