"Eja Yiyan, Ofooro"....that's the Yoruba name for smoked mackerel!
Frozen mackerel fish (locally called monkere, eja ice (iced fish), eja alaran - due to its velvet skin) is a staple source of protein for most Nigerians. This fish has been imported to Nigeria for as far as I can remember. Sold frozen at every major food market across the country.
Mackerel is seen as a cheap and affordable source of protein for the masses....often referred to as poor man's fish. But nutritionally, this fish is really quite rich in essential nutrients needed by both the frugal and affluent members of the community.
Mackerel fish is typically cooked in stews or soups. It can be fried first before adding to the soup or added in its frozen state. On street corners of major streets, you will find trays of fried mackerel (fried with a dusting of flour) being sold to those returning from work who would eat them with bread or soaked gari for dinner! Mackerel can also be grilled or baked. Most importantly, this fish is mostly smoked and then used in cooking different types of traditional vegetable soups.
Smoking mackerel is a major business for grass-root food business owners in Nigeria. I still remember very clearly, the process of smoking mackerel. During my university days, there was an elderly lady who smoked fish for her livelihood. She used a specially fabricated drum tower to carry out this process. At the very based of the drum tower are hot coal with wet wood chippings. This wood creates the much needed smoke and the hot coal provides the heat. The heat is needed to cook the fish to a certain degree. On the very top of the drum is a wire gauze upon which the cleaned and salted fish are arranged and covered with a jute sack to trap the smoke for maximum effect. The process is such a simple one and the results are fantastic.
I remember joining the queues in front of the smoked mackerel seller's smoking tower, waiting to buy hot, freshly smoked fish, with no chemical, no preservatives.....! The taste is better experienced than described.
Nutritional Data (100g of smoked fish flesh)
Calories - 200kcal
Protein - 25g
Carbohydrate - 0g
Fat - 10g
Vitamins: A, C, D, E, K, Folate, B12, Choline
Minerals: Iron, Calcium, Sodium, Phosphorous, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium
Fatty Acids: mackerel is very rich in essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6. It is also very rich in poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats
Try some of my smoked mackerel recipes