Cherishing the mackerel

A cavala, Rui Barreiros Duarte, ink on paper, 2012.

Fernand Point’s famous cookbook, Ma Gastronomie, includes two mackerel recipes. But in Portugal this fish, known as “cavala,” has never been popular. When fish mongers find mackerel mixed with other fish, they often give it away.

We worry that our national indifference toward the mackerel might make it swim to France in search of recognition. Luckily, chef José Avillez decided to pay tribute to this wonderful fish at his restaurant, Belcanto.  His recipe starts with a traditional “salmoura”: the fish is soaked in water, salt and sugar. It is then sliced and marinated in an infusion of rice vinegar and green apples. Finally, the mackerel is seared and served with delicately pickled vegetables.

If you go to Belcanto, please order this delicious dish. Help us keep the mackerel on the Portuguese coast!

Cavala Belcanto

Belcanto is located at Largo de S. Carlos, 10 in Lisbon. Tel. 213-420-607.

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