I did just that today, quite literally. I bought 2 small fresh mackerel and didn't realize that they hadn't been cleaned until I got them home. So we got up close and personal so to speak. I appreciated seeing what the fish had eaten before they were caught. There were shimmering scales in each of their stomachs, giving me a glimpse of their ocean story.
Mackerel are small oily fish, (except for the King Mackerel variety which are large, high in mercury content and should be avoided for eating.) These little mackerel are packed with omega 3's, protein, vitamin D, B1, B2, B6, B12, copper, niacin, iodine, iron and selenium. Nutritional gems!
When purchasing, it is important to see that the eyes are clear and ask a bit about where it came from. Smoking is a great option for mackerel. We thoroughly enjoyed them with collard greens and squash.
How to Clean a Whole Fish:
Belly side up, make a slit right down the center of the fish from just below the gills to the meaty part of the tail.
*Fresh cleaned mackerel
*cherry or apple wood chips, soaked in water
*high quality hardwood charcoal
Salt the fish inside and out. Make a small fire on one side of grill. Add charcoal slowly creating a bed of hot coals. Place the soaked chips on top of glowing coals. Put rack over coals, place fish on opposite side of
heat, cover, (allow a bit of the smoke to escape trough steam holes), and smoke for about 30 minutes or until the fish skin cracks and flesh is cooked through. You may need to flip them halfway through.
Remove from grill and serve whole with horseradish cream or as is with greens and hearty veggies. Watch for bones, and of course, don't forget to eat the tender cheeks!