The large mackerel are caught from summer to autumn in our waters. Go on a fishing trip with a boat on the sea, from Odden and catch your own fresh mackerel. Clean the mackerel at the boat immediately and put them in a frost box, you are sure to come home with fresh mackerel. No fish go so fast in solution as a mackerel. It would just be herring. Should the boat put crushed ice available, it is also a good solution. (Purified mackerel for smoke keeps its head on, but gills and entrails are taken out)
When returning home start removing the eyes, if you didn't do it on the boat, use a potato knife. Cut up from anus to the head and pinch out the intestines and gills. Clean the mackerel in the abdominal cavity for blood with a soft brush. I can have about 16 large mackerel in my smokig oven in one layer, but remember mackerel may not touch each other, if so they are not nice golden on the sides. This recipe is adapted my Smoke oven.
A good advice. Be careful not to cut too much up in the head because the fish is hung on a spear through the eyes. The head can then loosen and the fish is falling down. A good tip is to use wooden sticks of 6 mm to 8 mm. A wooden stick is not hot as an iron spear, so the fish remains on the wooden stick.
Mackerel can be salted in two ways. One is dry cured and the second wet cured.
Dry Cured: This method I use if I just come home with a few mackerel and will smoke them immediately. Rub mackerel with salt exterior and interior. Let salted mackerel rest for some hours in a refrigerator at 5 °C. Take them out and rinse them thoroughly in cold water, wipe dry with a cloth or paper towel. Then air-dried the mackerel for at least 2 hours. Mackerel were smoked as described below.
Wet salting: This method is more suitable if you have a lot of mackerel, which has been frozen. The method also provides a more uniform salting. I make a strong brine of 15% or 14 °Baume: To 12 liters of cold water add 2,165 kg of fine salt, it represents approx. to 20 nice mackerel between 400 g and 600 g piece. The volume fits my salt jar and smokig oven. The salt must be completely dissolved in the cold water before the fish are put into the brine. If you need a smaller or larger amount of brine, you can use this Excel spreadsheet to calculate the amount of salt.
Take the mackerel out of the freezer 24 hours before they are going to be smoked and put them frozen in the brine. They then dry up in the brine, but only begin to incorporate the salt when they are thawed. It can take 12 hours, so if they are 6 to 8 hours more in the brine, it fits very well with mackerel of 400 to 600 g. Try yourself if you have large or small mackerel. Remember that water temperatures should not exceed 5 °C. There may be problems in August and perhaps also in early September, so I use a fridge for that purpose. When you put the frozen mackerel in cold tap water (10 °C) the brine temperature will drop to 0 °C within a few hours, so you might not need a fridge. I put 12 large frozen mackerel in 10 °C brine at 09:00 o'clock. At 11:00 o'clock the temperature was 0 °C. Through the night until next morning at 07:00 o'clock was the temperature 1 °C.
Once the fish have been overnight in the brine, they are taken up and rinse thoroughly with cold water for blood and mucus residues which the brine has forced out of the fish. The fish hung out to dry with the expansion pins in the belly, so they also dry inside. The drying time is hard to predict, as the weather played a part. The fish should not hang in the sunlight, but like in the draft. Beware of flies here in the summertime. I have made two frames with Tesa mosquito net for windows, the first on top of smokig oven, and the second set in front of the gate. Now the fish are first dried in the smokig oven without the fly come to the fish. Until now I have dried the fish for 4 to 6 hours so the skin does not stick to your fingers anymore. News: A cage lined with nets, I have also made.
Now the mackerel should be smoked:
The oven temperature starts at 90 °C to 100 °C. The mackerels are hung in the smoke oven and smoked for 30 to 60 minutes with the "Hat" pinched approx. 2 cm. The water vapor must come out and the mackerel must open in the belly. It does not matter if there is no smoke in the beginning, but it is important that the mackerel open and dry in the beginning.
The oven temperature is reduced to 67 °C and the mackerels are smoked for 2 hours with the "Hat" closed and plenty of white smoke through the Jet Hood.
The oven temperature is now reduced to 50 °C and the mackerel are continued to smoke for 30 to 60 minutes while the temperature slowly drops.
After 3 to 4 hours, the fish have a beautiful golden color and is ready to be eaten hot. The fish you do not need here and now, can "overnight" in the smokig oven - in winter time. Otherwise, wrap the fish in parchment paper and put it in the fridge, so the smoky taste just sucked into the meat. Or vacuum packed and in the freezer.
I would just like to come up with a good recipe for "Mackerel Salad." Clean the fish for bones and cut meat into small pieces, come gradually meat into a blender and blend the meat with mayonnaise, lemon juice from one lemon and white pepper for taste. Serve on toasted bread with garnish, salad leaves on bottom, a raw egg yolk on top and finely chopped red onion as sprinkle. A cold beer and a dram are very suitable for this.
Postscript: I had mackerel with live weight at 1.2 kg; they must have 1 to 2 hours more than described above. They got 5 hours and were perfectly tender and smoked well. You can use expansion pins in the belly to make sure that the belly does not close when the heat is not sufficient in smokig oven at the beginning.
Also try the other recipes
Hot smoking of silver eels -- Hot smoking of salmon & trout
Hot smoking of garfish -- Hot smoking of harvest herring
Hot smoking of cod roe -- Homemade smoking cheese