Back when we were kids (there we six of us), we often holidayed in the village of Louisburgh, Co. Mayo. We all have happy memories of those summers, of playing on the deserted beach at Kiladoon, of visits to the metropolis of Westport (pop 5,500) and happy days spent spinning for mackerel from the pier at Lettereeragh, where the Bundoragha River enters the grandly named Killary Fjord. Our earliest trips to the pier bore no fruit (or mackerel for that matter). My father took heart from a local who told him “Hold your time. There are days when the water does be stiff with them. Sure, you could walk on their backs from here to Lenane.”, a distance of about 10 kilometres.
We returned on a number of occasions with limited success. I learned that fishing was a pleasure of itself and catching fish was just a very rare bonus. That was until the day we watched the water in the fjord seem to boil as a huge shoal of mackerel chased the sprat into the shallower waters. Slaughter. All we had to do was get a spinner into the water and we were guaranteed a catch.
Back at our cottage, we would gut and prepare the mackerel for frying. Probably the most delicious way to eat this fish when fresh from the sea. On one of our trips, Dad had tried to smoke some fillets. The smoker refused to work and I remember Dad’s frustration on the day. I have always wanted to try smoking my own and today, I got the chance. There was some nice fresh mackerel in the fishmongers so, I prepared Brined Smoked Mackerel. for the Wife and myself.
My brine consisted of:
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- Juice of a lemon
- 1 handful of juniper berries
- 1 handful of black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
As you can see, I used 3 fish. The first thing to do was to make up the brine. There is nothing to this except adding the ingredients to about a litre of water and stirring to dissolve. Do this well in advance to allow the flavours to mix well.
Then, I filleted the fish. There are dozens of great videos on method over on YouTube, if you are interested in the process.
Smoke for 15 minutes and allow to cool. Serve the delicious fillets with a nice big healthy salad, home-made tartar sauce and some lovely childhood holiday memories.