I grew up on mackerel! It was and still is one of the easiest fish to catch just off Howth head. I have some of the most amazing childhood memories of sunny mackerel filled summers with my granddad Do on his boat, where my cousins and I would be busy racing to pull in rods with heavy lines, fish on each hook, while my granddad would gut them and fillet them like the pro he was, belly laughing at the fact that we were all to squeamish to take them off the lines ourselves. For me, mackerel dishes always have to be simple with really fresh flavours, and I love this quick and simple lunch which has a great kick of heat thanks to the chilli. People get a bit worried when it comes to cooking fish, but go to the fishmongers and ask them to do all the hard work and you will be left really lovely fillets of fish which are no more complicated to cook than pan frying a chicken breast!
4-6 mackerel fillets
2 red chillies, finely chopped with the seeds removed
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
A good drizzle of olive oil
A good pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper
Place the mackerel fillets on a large plate and drizzle with olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Don’t use all the lemon juice here, as it’s nice to give the fish an extra squeeze of lemon while it cooks and then at the end to serve.
Sprinkle over the chilli and garlic and gently rub into the fish on both sides, turning to coat in the lemon and olive oil.
Season the fillets with sea salt and black pepper and cook on a hot, non stick griddle pan, over a high heat, for 2-3 minutes either side, depending on their size or until they are cooked through. Halfway through the cooking time, give them another splash of lemon juice.
Serve the mackerel fillets with a spicy tomato salsa or a fresh side salad for a really light and healthy lunch!