Wednesday, 5 September 2012

FISHING FOR YOUR SUPPER..Catching Mackerel in North Uist

Catching mackerel in North Uist

Cooking supper from scratch took on a whole new dimension last week whilst staying in the Outer Hebrides with friend and artist Richard Bramble and his wife Sarah. 

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For most of us, buying fresh ingredients or using home grown vegetables is as “from scratch” as it gets.

In the Outer Hebrides it involved catching our food first.

I must admit that I was slightly worried by this concept. I had never caught anything and so had visions that I would be very hungry.

Initially I contemplated taking a sneaky supply of extra food with me –just in case.
However there was no need to worry,  I am pleased and proud to report that

Yep...I fished


I still can’t quite believe it...
Actually caught my supper!

This was a whole new experience for me as I had never fished before.  I really don’t think you can count the odd crab enticed by a sliver of bacon on a line dragged in a boating lake with the children.

Yet here I was, clad in multiple layers and waterproofs, helping to set lobster pots and welding a fishing rod!

 North Uist, is an amzing place. It is both rugged and dramatic with incredible beaches and heather topped hills. The weather changed equally dramatically during our stay hence the need for many layers.

It felt so calm and remote with its huge skies and huger sea scapes.

Heather topped hills in North Uist

Windswept beaches, North Uist

Under Richards’s careful supervision we spent many happy hours in and on the water.

Richard and H

Landing mackerel in North Uist

 We saw star fish, seals, shoals of mackerel; we saw salmon and brown trout jump as well as the majestic sea eagles flying off the Maddy.

Star fish and sea urchins from North Uist

I am very pleased to say we caught mackerel and Pollock which were delicious!

More about the scallops and lobster next time..

There were squeals of excitement the first few times we landed our mackerel catches onto the deck, glistening in the sunshine.

Richard gutting mackerel

I have to admit that I left the gutting and beheading to others and just enjoyed the seagulls screeching behind us as they dived for the pickings!

Gutting on deck

Seagulls enjoying the pickings of our catch off Lochmaddy, North Uist.

Over the 10 days we tried many different ways of cooking the mackerel, which was our most popular catch. We had mackerel fajitas’, cold mackerel salad, and the Bramble speciality, simple mackerel with capers, which has to be my favourite.


Serves 4
Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 3 minutes


4 mackerels
3 Tbsp capers
Splash of olive oil

And a non stick pan with a lid.


1.     Slice the fillets off your fish, cutting from the tail end, leaving the back bone and smaller bones attached.
2.     Place skin side down in the frying pan.
3.     Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the capers over before placing on a medium heat and covering with the lid.
4.     Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the flesh turns white.

Remove carefully from the pan and serve with whatever you fancy...

We had them with salad, with potatoes and veg, we even used the left over’s in fahitas...not as weird as it sounds! I also think it would also be delicious with ratatouille.

Alternatively, if you have any left over’s on a sunny day you could always make a tomato, mackerel and olive salad inspired by Sicily ..
a great combination of two islands.

Mackerel sculpture, Lochmaddy, North Uist

Outside the Taigh Chesarsbjagh Arts Centre,

in Lochmaddy, is this excellent mackerel sculpture. 
Made from stones and shells, it captures the colours of the mackerel so well and sits beautifully on the rocks.

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