Gravad mackerel is prepared in a similar way as gravad laks. The century old tradition in Scandinavia to bury a fresh, gutted salmon with salt, sugarly berries and herbs will be applied here to mackerel.
The salt and sugars draw out water from the fish- and bacteria- cells, thus having a preserving effect on the fish. The cold storage conditions and the tightly packed fish halves will also prevent the fish oil become rancid.
While mackerel is one of the healthiest and cheapest fish to buy, many people are put off by the fishy taste. Following this simple recipe you will discover that it yields an uncooked, healthy fish with an incredible taste pallet.
As with all fish curing techniques, you need to work clean. Take the following operational procedures always in mind. 1. Fresh fish may contain parasites such as worms. Thus the safest way is to freeze the fish (halves) at -20 C for a week before using. 2. When handling fish make sure your boards and knifes are clean and free of odors. 3. Keep your fish in the fridge during the curing and also after. The colder, the better (but do not freeze).
In this recipe, you may compare the operation with making the cured mackerel under food base essentials. In essence here we apply a much milder cure. Using diluted vinegar first, followed by a milder, but longer cure in sugar, salt and herbs.
I always start off with flash-frozen mackerel halves. This saves the parasite elimination step and ensures a safe transport home in a warm city.
After a full day of ‘curing’ I usually turn all halves around. Make sure you keep flesh on flesh and skin on skin. Always place weights on the fish during curing. That helps to have the fish bleed water and makes the flesh more compact.
For cleaning and cutting of the cured fish see remarks below and in the recipe.
The cured fish will keep for a few days in the fridge without any problem.