Holy mackerel, that’s good fish

It’s extremely good for us, easy to prepare and it’s delicious teamed with red grape and chilli salsa

Grilled Mackerel and grape salad. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Grilled Mackerel and grape salad. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

The nutritional value of mackerel is so well established by now that I’m sure you’re tired of hearing just how great it is. But because this oily little powerhouse is at the heart of this week’s recipes, I’ve decided to talk about it again. Only briefly though, because I am also going to talk about grapes. Yes, grapes.

But back to mackerel. Here goes. These gleaming, torpedo-shaped beauties are teeming with goodness.

If you have been paying any attention at all for the past decade or so, you might know that Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids occur in high quantities in mackerel.

But did you also know that it contains vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K, as well as an abundance of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and selenium? And as if that wasn’t enough, it also has trace minerals such as zinc and copper, protein – of course – and the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10.

Without getting all technical on the biology/physiology side of things, all of these nutrients are, in their various ways, pretty damn good for your health.

So far, so good. We can take it that eating mackerel – if you like it or can acquire a taste for it – once or twice a week is a great thing to do. One of those micro investments in your health that will definitely pay off.

It helps, too, that mackerel is easy and quick to prepare, requiring only the briefest blast under a hot grill on one side to be cooked to perfection.

So, what do you serve with this lovely fish? One of the classic accompaniments is beetroot, perhaps because of its earthy sweetness.

But beetroot isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as they say. Salsas and fresh herbs are more palatable for many of us, especially because that welcome acidity cuts through and complements the rich flesh.

And this is where grapes come in. Actually a type of berry, grapes, like mackerel, are stuffed full of nutrients, especially the purple and red ones, which contain resveratrol, a substance known to reduce heart-attack risk factors significantly and that also mops up brain-damaging plaques and free radicals.

The grapes in this salsa recipe work fantastically well, combining with chilli, herbs, lime juice and finely chopped red onion to make an excellent – and acidic – mix that is very moreish indeed. And as we’ve seen above, moreish is good when it comes to mackerel. dkemp@irishtimes.com

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