Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mackerel on the barbecue

I have written before about my insecurity concerning barbecues. One of my worries concerns when to decide that the coals are in their optimum state to be spread out, before I place the rack on top and start grilling. I suspect that I always go too soon, fearing that the temperature will fall. The problem then is that drops of fat cause the coals to flare up, charring the food.

Reading my entry on grilled mackerel from last year, I get the impression that it was a simple, untroubled processs. Not this time. I exacerbated the problem of flaring coals by coating the fish in a little oil, and by placing sprigs of rosemary in the breast cavities. Both encouraged ignition. It was crazy to oil mackerel, which is an oily fish; but here in France, I do not have the fish-shaped basket that protects the skin from sticking on the rack. The skin stuck anyway.

As soon as I put the fish on the rack, there was a conflagration. I moved the mackerel to the side of the rack until the flames died down. I moved it back; more flames. So I may have given it less time than it needed.

The largest mackerel was still a little undercooked. Still, all the cooked fish was delicious.

One is inclined to feel that it's essential to tart up food before cooking it. But all a grilled mackerel requires is the fish, with, when it's ready, perhaps a little lemon, salt, and pepper.


pablopatito said...

A tip from Jamie Oliver on his recent TV program is that a generous covering of salt stops fish from sticking to barbecue grills. I tried this the other day with mackerel and it worked a treat. I thought I'd put plenty on as I didn't intend to eat the skin, but then I ate the skin anyway, which was burnt but tasty, and the salt caused me to drink about five pints of water during the night.

Nicholas Clee said...

That's a very interesting tip. Thank you. I agree: it would be hard to resist eating the salty, charred skin. Unhealthy, though.