The Japanese have a great way of cooking fish — shioyaki
(塩焼き). It means salt-grilled. It’s subtly poetic, indicating the quality and fresh flavor of the fish needs nothing but salt and heat to render it delicious.
Mackerel, considered by most in the USA as a bait fish, is in fact delicious. Todd Weeks, a friend of mine, who grew up in Blue Hill & Castine took Anna and I mackerel fishing off the dock in Rockport. Anna caught the first one, and then we used it as bait to catch more. The mackerel came in a school, flashing rapidly through the water beneath the dock. Underwater they are like silver bullets flying smoothly. They cannot stop swimming or they suffocate, like sharks. They eat plankton (invertebrates) by swimming tight together like a giant sein net of mackerel—each hinged mouth flapped open, swallowing continuously.
A guy from Georgia joined us on the dock, and he, determined to “not get skunked”, caught seven. He handed all the large ones over, and we caught an additional six.
After cleaning them, we headed up the hill and stored them in the fridge overnight. Next day we grilled them with lemon, coriander, and cumin. But I saved a large one to fillet and try shioyaki style. Unfortunately the skin stuck to the aluminum foil (should have lightly oiled it), but it was crispy and delicious.