Dancing Tomatoes

It’s more fun to say “fishy” business, but the word fishy is not a good one to use, when the subject actually IS fish. Why? Because the word “fishy” describes the smell of fish that isn’t fresh. And we don’t want to have ANYTHING to do with such a thing.

I show you in the video how to take fillets from a mackerel. Once you can do that, you can take fillets from any “round” fish (that’s a traditional fish shape, rather than a “flat” fish like halibut or sole). I also evoke the sustainability of mackerel. It swims in huge schools, is not over-fished and once it gets to the market it’s affordable. And it’s simply delicious, so much more delicate than people think…so I hope you’ll cook it. But there are more than 500 species of edible fish so depending on where you live, you have a great array to choose from.

What to remember at the Fish Market

Remember a couple of things when you go to the fish market, or to the supermarket, to buy fish. It should never smell fishy – that just means it’s on its way out. It should look bright and appealing, as though it had just jumped from the water. In the case of fillets or steaks, they should look bright too, not dull or gaping. And fish shouldn’t be sitting in a pool of liquid. Fish needs to be kept cold at all times so at the shop it should be sitting on ice. Fillets and steaks should be protected from the ice with either parchment paper or kale or lettuce leaves (prettier), so they don’t “burn” from the cold. Whole fish are fine right on the ice because they have skin as protection.

Once you get your fish put it in a cooler then once home,in the refrigerator. I always counsel cooking fish the day you buy it, that way you get the very best!

Simple Rules for Cooking Fish

Cooking rules for fish? Less is more. Fish cooks quickly, and ideally it is cooked just until opaque. So check it often as it cooks. Lift a fillet from underneath and if begins to flake, it is cooked. A whole fish in the oven should take 20-25 minutes, but check by making a little slit at the back of the head and bending back the knife blade to see if it is opaque. If it isn’t, leave it in for a few more minutes. Fish will continue to cook once it’s away from the heat, so keep that in mind too.

Once you take a fish from the heat let it sit for about 5 minutes. It will give off liquid, and you don’t want that interfering with your sauce, or getting on the dinner plate. The liquid won’t hurt you but it doesn’t offer anything, so before you serve the fish, drain off the liquid, or transfer the fish to a plate or serving platter, for a perfect main course!

Cinnamon Mackerel - Maquereau â La Cannelle

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time4 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Keyword: cinnamon, fresh oregano, lemon juice, mackere
Servings: 4 servings


  • Eight about 2 ounces;60g each Eight medium mackerel fillets, bones removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon best quality ground cinnamon
  • Generous pinch piment d’Espelette or hot paprika
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt
  • About 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh oregano or other fresh herb for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C).
  • Rinse the fillets and pat them dry. Refrigerate until just before cooking.
  • Mix the pepper in a small bowl with the cinnamon and the piment d’Espelette or hot paprika. Drizzle each fillet with ½ tsp. lemon juice. Lightly season each fillet with salt, then sprinkle an equal amount of ground spices evenly over each fillet. Drizzle each fillet with an equal amount of olive oil.
  • Place the fillets on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven until they are nearly opaque and their meat has turned pale, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove the fillets from the oven. Transfer the fillets to a warmed platter and let them sit for 4 to 5 minutes, so the juice in them can emerge. Transfer two fillets to each warmed dinner plate, placing them crossed so they form a sort of V. Garnish the plates with herbs and serve immediately.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating