About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Fried Tidbits of Swordfish or Other Fish | Main | Sauteed Whole Fish with Mushrooms »

Pan-Roasted Mackerel with Rosemary and Garlic

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.

Comments (7)

Marcella Hazan:

Doug, I don't think you get it.


It's not supposed to smell fishy, if it's really fresh. Maybe your fish didn't appreciate being frozen???

Actually, I think the mackerel looks great, both raw and cooked. I love mackerel although we do not have it very often. Fish heads and tails don't bother me either. I think you get more flavor if you cook fish with the head on. (Anyone remember the movie "Chinatown" with John Huston and Jack Nicholson?)

Your tomatoes look scrumptious.


Jan: It wasn't exactly the smell but the residual aroma on everything they touched - lot of scrubbing going on.

Marcella: You're probably right. I don't know what I don't get.

no scales? Mackerels are supposed to have scales. Perhaps yours were already de-scaled. In which case you lucked out!


Jerry - No scales and the fish hadn't been de-scaled.


I don't think you got it either. I take it you are not really a fish eating person by your actions.

While it may be practical to save the fish for later in the freezer - as you might not find mackerel common place to purchase where you live? It isn't really right to freeze a whole fish in this way, it should be eaten fresh or not at all in my opinion.

Also, the mackerel should not taste or smell fishy, that is a sign that it is not fresh.

Buying a fish with the head and tail on still is preferable to many as you can see how fresh the fish is, and know that it was healthy and not some mystery fillet o' fish.

Finally - taking the fish off the bones and arranging the fish on the plate made something that is beautiful (the fish) look very ugly. It could have been TV dinner. Anyways, I enjoy all the rest of your posts - and this great blog, so I take this as an outlier of your entire body of work :)

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 1, 2010 6:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Fried Tidbits of Swordfish or Other Fish.

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