I delayed preparing this recipe because of an error in the directions in the cookbook.
I purchased the 4 small (3/4 pound each) mackerel earlier in the summer at Lapointe's on a visit to the Byward Market area in downtown Ottawa. The fish looked great and the counter guy gutted the mackerel, leaving the head and tails on, and double bagged them for the trip home, where I tossed them into the freezer. The list of other ingredients is simplicity itself - some olive oil, 4 cloves of garlic, a sprig of rosemary, salt and pepper, and some lemon juice. I only had to take a few steps from our porch to snip a sprig of rosemary and a few more steps to get some garlic drying in the shed beside the garden.
While I had never cooked a whole fish before encountering this recipe, the presence of the heads & tails didn't give me much pause; rather it was the note that the fish had to be scaled. I haven't scaled a fish in several decades & I didn't give it up because it was too much fun. So I put off preparing this recipe until the penultimate evening, when, lo and behold, I discovered that small mackerel do not have scales.
I prepared the fish in a roast pan. First the oil and garlic are heated; then the fish are added, browned & salted on both sides; then lemon juice is added and the pan is covered and the fish cook over a low heat for several minutes. Easy.
The final result - not so good looking, eh?
So I removed the meat from the bones and added a few slices of ripe tomato from my garden - much better looking in my opinion. The fish tasted pretty good and the tomato was delicious.
What I liked about this recipe:
1. As mentioned above, this was the first time I have prepared a whole fish, and the novelty aspect of this and some other recipes is a major benefit of participating in this project.
2. This was very easy to prepare - especially since no fish-scaling was involved.
What I didn't like about this recipe:
1. Well, I wasn't thrilled about looking at the fish heads in the pan. I don't understand the purpose of leaving the heads and tails on. Visually, not very appealing.
2. The smell. Does anybody really like the fishy smell in the kitchen? Hands up.... I didn't think so.
Would I make it again?
Doubtful. The final result was pretty good, but I don't see myself picking up a few mackerel any time soon. Too many more appealing recipes.