Have many of you bought a fish like this? With the eyes still there? This was a new experience for me. Even though I am no stranger to the cycles of life and how food gets to my plate, I never bought or ate a whole fish before. I have not really cooked much seafood in my kitchen career, but I do enjoy it. I love smoked fishes, and there is a store sort of near to us called Healthy Living, that actually sells several varieties of whole smoked fishes. The last time we were there, they had this guy, for about $9, which is a steal if you are used to buying smoked fillets. So with an adventurous spirit, I bought it, bones, fins, eyes and all.
Funny story interlude…so Healthy Living also has a great variety of local meats and sustainable seafood– things like pork, beef, venison, lamb, duck, chicken – pretty much you name it, it has probably graced their shelves at some point. So I like to go every so often, and buy a small variety. So on the day we bought Mr. Mackerel, we also bought some Highland grassfed beef, duck rillettes, some venison shanks, several packages of chicken wings, pork belly, cans of tuna, fresh marinated anchovies etc. That was all we bought – no veggies, no fruit, and no dairy. So we get to the check-out line, and our cashier was kind of scowling at us. Her lips were pursed and her nose wrinkled like she smelled something really foul. As she was scanning our box of meat, she was only touching the corners of the packages and moving them across the scanner as quickly as possible. Then it dawned on me, and I said “I hope you aren’t a vegetarian”, and she responded, “No, I am a vegan, actually”. SCREEEECH. Talk about a clash of cultures.
But it really got me thinking about my days as a vegan (all 6 months of them), and I felt like, even though we take very different approaches, this girl and I both care about the welfare of animals and are taking action to opt out against the inhumane slaughter of them for human consumption. She was young, so you never know where her path might lead. When I was a vegan, and a vegetarian (for 10 years) I never in a million years would have thought I would raise animals for meat. But once I saw first-hand how animals can be raised humanely and with love and respect, for consumption, and how feeding your family from the sweat of your brow and your own hands is more honorable than buying non-meat items that are subsidized by the government, (like soy, a major vegetarian protein and something I ate a lot of) to the detriment of us all, animals included…and when I learned enough about the natural world that I had been so disconnected from, and learned that even if I was a vegetarian, in order to eat, animals had to die, I decided there had to be a better way, a way where I could take full responsibility for the food on my plate while at the same time take my place in the natural world, as a part of it- and this is one of the reasons I do what I do on the homestead – because I love animals and because I am an animal. To the cashier that probably sounds so backwards, but I have been forward, back and back again!
So anyway, back to Mr. Mackerel…like I said, I love smoked fishes, and I wanted to showcase this beautiful fish in a nice spring dish. I decided on a mackerel salad. Mackerel is packed with protein and essential fatty acids. It has a nice meaty texture and smoked it is just delicious! One of our favorites. To make the salad, I mixed together half of the fish (after I opened it up, took the bones out, etc) with 2 hard -boiled eggs, capers, roasted red peppers a splash of red wine vinegar and a touch of homemade mayo. I then served it on a bed of greens. We dined al fresco on the porch looking at the mountain and admiring the buds on the trees, the greening of the grass and the beautiful tulips in bloom.
Also, don’t forget – you have a few more days to enter for your chance to win the book Root Cellaring, and to get your very own Leftover Queen Award ! I want to hear your tips -what are some small things do you do in your kitchens that make you a “Leftover Queen”?