From northern Portugal, these firm, perfect fillets of mackerel come plain in olive oil or, the way I’ve been enjoying them, in olive oil spiked with Piri Piri, the famous red pepper of Portugal.
Mackerel is only now getting noticed for its full, meaty flavor and firm texture. It used to be considered a baitfish and it was overfished and mis-used in an effort to increase catches of other fish. But using small mackerel as bait took the fish away from fishing communities and those on shore that depended on it for food. As a result, we're all moving away from catching huge schools of mackerel (and other aquatic creatures) in large nets and returning to a hook and line system that only catches the mackerel we want to eat and nothing else.
We're getting there, but we're not collectively there yet.
The taste is somewhere between the sweetness of tuna and the richness of sardines. It’s rare to find tinned mackerel of this quality. Be the first on your block to declare themselves the monarch of mackerel and get a case.