I eat a lot of fish during the week but being
boring a creature of habit, I tend to eat a lot of the same fish week in week out. To shake things up a bit, I’m going to try a new fish every week for the month of January and I’m planning to share my fishy adventures with you guys here, whilst also looking at the benefits for runners. Aren’t you lucky? 😉
First up, mackerel. I don’t know if other people childhood have memories of fish or specific fish and I presume this is a weird thing but here’s the thing: I do. I have childhood memories of mackerel- going fishing with my Dad and my big brother on holidays in Clare, Wexford, Galway, Mayo, Cork, Waterford when it got dark in the evenings to fish for mackerel off “the rocks” or a pier in whatever place we happened to be that year. I don’t think it was that we ever specifically fished for mackerel but that was the only fish anyone ever seemed to catch. I never caught anything (riveting, tragic story but we’ll move on) so the specificity of the fishing was moot anyway. My Dad, however, was pretty good and always managed to outwit at least a half a dozen mackerel on those summer evenings.
Back then, the cooking and eating of the mackerel was simple. Immediately after catching the fish, we’d cart them back to the holiday home, wash, trim, decapitate and pop them straight under a piping hot grill. A dash of salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice and you were done. It really doesn’t get fresher than that.
I haven’t eaten mackerel since being on family holidays around Ireland many years ago and to be honest I wasn’t big into it as a child either. I was more interested in the fishing and the prep than the taste. But every time I go into the local fish shop, my eye is drawn to the beautiful colours and stunningly fresh looking fillets of mackerel in the counter. DIRT CHEAP, IN ABUNDANCE, SUSTAINABLE, NO FIDDLY PREPARATION AND INCREDIBLY GOOD FOR YOU. There are times in life when you can jump or not jump. Today, I’m proud to say I jumped. I flung off my sea bass/cod/hake/salmon comfort blanket and lurched into the unknown. I mackereled.
Mackerel is a Superstar: Mackerel is an oily fish and contains high quantities of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. It also contains vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K, as well as being rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and selenium.
Cancer Fighter: High in protein, this fish also boasts the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, which helps to eliminate cancerous agents from afflicted cells. Omega-3s can help prevent breast, prostate, renal and colon cancers.
Immune System Booster: Mackerel fortifies the immune system by supporting the functions of organs that have been weakened by sickness. Coenzyme Q10 enhances the body’s capacity to fight infections.
Anti-Inflammatory: Omega-3s act as an anti-inflammatory agent so good for all you runners out there!
Good Blood, Healthy Heart: Inclusion of oily fish in the diet has also been shown to improve the condition of the blood, which in turn contributes to better heart health. Essential fatty acids help to thin the blood, which improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. It prevents build-up of cholesterol in the blood and constriction of arteries. Essential fatty acids also reduce bad cholesterol levels yet maintain good cholesterol levels. They make blood vessels more elastic, which again facilitates improved blood flow. Cleaner, thinner blood reduces the risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease.
Calcium! One serving of mackerel (190g – about the size of one whole fish/ two fish fillets) contains 46% of the recommended daily calcium intake. In addition to being good for your bones, calcium helps to normalize heartbeat and regulate blood pressure.
Brain and Nerve Development: Research has shown that high concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids exist in the brain and play a vital role in cognitive and behavioral functions. This enhances memory and performance, while others have conducted research to show that they also contribute to the prevention of the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Essential fatty acids help to prevent problems of the central nervous system, facilitate the efficient transmission of nerve impulses and have been found to aid in the prevention of depression and dementia.
Who knew that the humble mackerel had such super powers? And, it’s pretty.
Jamie Oliver and his new Superfood cookbook helped me out with a delicious recipe, which although I tweaked it a bit… proved to be ridiculously easy to prepare and also highly nutritious. I tried it. I jumped. I went fish-rogue. Now it’s your turn. Go get your bad ass fish on.
Mackerel with Beetroot, Bulgar Wheat and Rocket
- 50 g bulgur wheat
- 1 x 190 g mackerel fillets (ask your fishmonger to scale, gut and fillet it for you if it’s whole)
- fresh whole beetroot of any colour- mixed colours if you can get them
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp horseradish sauce
- 1 tbsp greek yogurt
- lemon juice
- bunch of fresh thyme
- rocket leaves
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Cook the bulgur according to the packet instructions. I usually simmer in chicken stock for 15 minutes and then turn off the heat, allowing it to soak up the remaining liquid for a further 20 minutes or longer.
- Meanwhile, put the whole beetroot(s) into a pot of boiling water and cook for 30 mins or until tender. Remove from the pot and cool before slicing into very thin slices. Use a mandolin if you have one.
- Mix the mustard and 1 tsp vinegar together.
- Place a sheet of baking/parchment paper onto a small baking tray and rub with a small amount of oil (of your choice). Spread the bulgur wheat onto the tray and lay the fish fillets on top. Rub the mackerel skin with the mustard dressing.
- Lay the beetroot slices around the fish on top of the bulgur wheat and tuck them around the fish. Mix 1 tsp of vinegar together with salt and black pepper and a tsp olive oil to make a dressing. Brush the dressing over the beetroot with the bunch of thyme and then chuck the thyme over and around the baking tray.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile mix the horseradish, greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice together. When the fish is cooked, serve with a generous handful of rocket and the horseradish yogurt.
Now, you’re all super-boosted and in prime position for an evening of good running recovery 😉