We have just had the most fantastic experience at Welsh Mama’s Kitchen we were lucky enough to be invited on a fishing trip with some of our closest friends. The timing was amazing as it fell on the first day of my retirement (Have I mentioned that I have retired?). I was slightly concerned beforehand as the day before the fishing trip I had a day of celebrating with friends and colleagues and I wondered what the mixture of alcohol and a boat trip would bring. I needn’t have worried as I curtailed my gin consumption and was up with the lark. So on Saturday morning seven women and four Small People met at Saundersfoot Harbour and were invited on board the Ebony May by its Skipper Stuart Denman and his wonderful son Mikey. It was obvious from the off that the rain wasn’t going to spoil the trip (yes it was July and yes it had been dry all week!). Our Skipper and Son were so welcoming, they put life jackets on the Small People and my Small Girl (age four) wore a tiny multi coloured life jacket that had belonged to Mikey. He towered above her as he fitted her with his old jacket yet his gentleness was evident and a joy to see.
So despite the rain we were off, before the Tenby to Saundersfoot swim meant that we wouldn’t be able to leave the harbour. Within minutes we were all fishing for mackerel and not long after dunking the feather traces, an excited cry went up and the first of the beautiful shimmering creatures were brought aboard. Mikey and Stuart encouraged the kids to pick up the fish and put them in the box. Small Boy was reticent but his younger sister was delighted as Mikey showed her how to pick up and hold the fish. I will never forget the proud look on her face as she boxed the first one.
We chugged on a bit further through a bit of a swell and listened to Stuart as he explained the history of the area including Caldy Island. We looked inland to North and South beaches of Tenby; a fantastic view to look in rather than be on the beach looking out. Stuart knew of some quiet waters, tucked against the island where we watched a colony of seals who were as interested in us as we were of them. Truly wonderful. We were all soaked through and cold by then but as if by magic Stuart produced hot tea and custard creams. I tell you, nothing has ever tasted so good.
Our three hours were nearly up so after Stuart let all the Small People have a go at steering the boat a few more mackerel were caught and we were harbour bound where the next passengers a group of chaps were waiting to board Ebony May. We left with our bounty desperate to go out again soon.
The trip was rounded off with fish and chips and a pot of tea in the harbourside cafe. We were all cold, wet and very happy!
At home I filleted most of the mackerel under the supervision of the Small People and popped it in the freezer but kept some whole to bbq and have the following day. Unfortunately the inclement weather continued on Sunday so I grilled the fish and we had it with brown basmati rice and peas along with and crunchy salad tossed in an Asian style dressing. The small people were so excited to be able to eat their catch.
BBQ or Grilled Mackerel (depending on the weather) with Asian dressed salad
4 or 5 mackerel gutted and cleaned
Half a fresh red chilli chopped finely
1 small clove of garlic crushed
Small piece of ginger grated
1 tsp honey
Splash of sesame oil
Splash of fish sauce
Zest and juice of a lime or two
FOR THE SALAD
Three spring onions
Handful of fresh coriander chopped
Handful of sugar snap peas sliced
Two celery stalks finely chopped
Handful of romaine lettuce
Handful of fennel finely chopped
Sprinkle of sprouting lentils
Juice of two limes
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp honey
Half a fresh red chile finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic crushed.
Grill or BBQ the fish for around two minutes on each side. Whilst the fish is cooking shake all the fish marinade together. When the fish is cooked, pop it on a plate and pour the marinade over the fish and leave for a minute or two.
In the meantime put all the salad dressing ingredients into a clean jam jar and shake together (taste it should be salty, sweet, limey and punchy). Toss the salad with the dressing. (Any combination of salad / vegetables work here – they just need to be crunchy and what you like or have in your fridge). Easy healthy delicious food.
I have discovered a mackerel, kale, lemon and caper pasta recipe published online by Delicious Magazine which I can’t wait to try. (Unfortunately I have no idea how to share a link!)
I love mackerel, as a kid it was the only fish my dad and I ever caught from the pier in Aberavon, which was accessed through the Steel Works and we needed to show our licence to the Security on the Docks. We would get an annual license from the Ports Authority Office which is now Morgans Hotel in Swansea. I remember one day catching over forty of them. They were literally committing suicide and biting on each feather of the trace and the odd one catching the tail of another. We spent the rest of the day gutting them and taking them around to friends and family. I loved fishing with my dad it didn’t matter if we never caught anything, just being with him and sharing a flask of tea and a Marathon (Snickers now – just showing my age) was the best. My mum would prepare them as soused mackerel and I fondly remember having them as a treat on a Saturday night for supper in front of the tv watching Saturday Night at the Palladium. Hopefully my Small People will have such fond memories of mackerel fishing and already they are more successful at it than I was.