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It's mackerel season ... in cioppino, barbecued, broiled, or sauteed.

The season for Pacific mackerel opens on July 1 this year and will continue until a specific quota is reached, likely next spring. After a peak harvest in 1935, the supply of Pacific (also called American, blue, or chub) mackerel dwindled until the late '70s. Since then, with careful management, numbers have increased.

These small, streamlined fish sometimes travel in schools with Spanish (or jack) mackerel. The catch of Spanish mackerel is not regulated, so they're available all year. Pacific mackerel normally range from about San Francisco Bay south, but last year were found as far north as the Pacific Northwest. Spanish mackerel range to Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

Fish markets usually carry one species or the other, but sometimes they're mixed. Of the two, Pacific mackerel have darker, tuna-like flesh with more robust flavor. Spanish mackerel is milder and the flesh a little firmer when raw. Both fish are quite firm after cooking. Except for an extra step in preparing Spanish mackerel (see photograph at left), they're interchangeable in recipes.

although sold whole, mackerel weighing 12 ounces or more make nice fillets; most fish markets will fillet them for you. If fish weigh less than 12 ounces, have them pan-dressed--heads and tails removed. At home, slash each fish as shown at top right; the cuts help them cook evenly.

In the following recipes, the dressed and slashed fish are used for a mackerel cioppino and to cook on the barbecue grill. We also include two ways to prepare fillets: broiled and topped with tomato sauce, and sauteed fish in tart onion sauce. Mackerel Cioppino 3 or 4 small (about 1/2 lb. each) mackerel, pan-dressed 1 medium-size onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed About 1-1/4 cups water 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce 1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves 1 tablespoon olive oil or salad oil 1 large thin-skinned potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (optional) Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Rinse fish and pat dry. Slash each fish as shown above; set aside. In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine the onion, garlic, and 1 cup of the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until onion is very soft, about 15 minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce, oregano, oil, and potato. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until potato is almost tender when pierced; add water if needed to make a medium-thick sauce. Add the mackerel, pushing them down into sauce; cover and simmer until fish is firm throughout, about 12 minutes (cut into center of thickest part of fish to test).

Transfer fish and potato to a serving dish and spoon sauce over top. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Makes 3 or 4 servings.--Francis Randazzo, Monterey, Calif. Barbecued Mackerel

Around 30 minutes ahead, start the barbecue fire, using about 40 charcoal briquets. Have 6 to 8 small (about 1/2 lb. each) mackerel pan-dressed (heads and tails removed). Rinse and pat dry. Slash each fish as shown at top of page 187. Place fish in a container (about 9 by 13 in.) and pour over either the lemon-garlic or ginger-soy sauce (recipes follow). Marinate about 15 minutes; turn once.

Lift fish from sauce (set sauce aside) and place on grill about 6 inches above a solid bed of hot coals. Cook until well browned on one side, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn and cook until brown on second side, basting several times with reserved sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Lemon-garlic sauce. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1 large clove garlic (minced or pressed), 1 tablespoon olive oil or salad oil, and 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves.

Ginger-soy sauce. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup soy sauce with 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) or sherry, 1 clove garlic (minced or pressed), and 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger. Mackerel with Tart Onion Sauce 4 medium-size (3/4 to 1 lb. each) or 2 large (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb. each) mackerel, cut into fillets About 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil Salt and pepper to taste 1 medium-large onion, thinly sliced 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Rinse fillets and pat dry. Dredge in flour to coat all over; shake off excess.

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil medium heat. Put in half the fillets at a time, skin inside up; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer fillets to a heatproof plate and place in a 250[deg.] oven. Repeat, browning remaining fish and adding more oil if needed to coat bottom of pan.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and cook onion over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar, cook 1 minute, then distribute over fish. Let stand in warm oven for 15 to 30 minutes for flavors to blend. Makes 4 servings.--Arturo Lionetti, San Jose, Calif. Broiled Mackerel with Tomato Sauce 4 medium-size (3/4 to 1 lb. each) or 2 large (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb., each) mackerel, cut into fillets About 4 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil Seasoned crumbs (recipe follows) Tomato sauce (recipe follows)

Rinse fillets and pat dry. Dip each in oil to caot all over, then coat with crumb mixture. Arrange, skin side down, on the preheated rack of a broiler pan (about 12 by 15 in.).

Broil about 4 inches from heat, without turning, until toasted and brown on top, about 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with tomato sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Seasoned crumbs. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup fine dry French bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon grated Romano (or Parmesan) cheese, 1 small clove garlic (minced or pressed), 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, and 1/8 tablespoon pepper.

Tomato sauce. In a blender or food processor, whirl 1 small can (8 oz.) stewed tomatoes or whole tomatoes until coarsely chopped. In a 1- to 2-quart pan, combine tomato with 1 clove garlic (minced or pressed), 1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves, 1 tablespoon olive oil or salad oil, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basi (optional), and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes to blend flavors.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jul 1, 1984
Words:1057
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