Skip to content

Spanish Mackerel

Broiled Mackerel with Ginger and Garlic


1 lb mackerel fillets
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
Accompaniment: lime wedges

Put fillets, skin sides down, in a lightly oiled large shallow baking pan. Stir together ginger, garlic, lime juice, oil, salt, chili powder, and turmeric in a small bowl until combined well, then rub onto mackerel flesh and marinate 10 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Broil mackerel 5 to 6 inches from heat, without turning, until cooked through and lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to plates with 2 spatulas and top with cilantro.

Grilled Spanish Mackerel with Green Sauce

Adapted from Andrea Reusing’s “Cooking in the Moment”


1 lb Spanish mackerel fillets, skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely ground dried red chiles, such as de árbol
Extra virgin olive oil
Green Sauce (recipe follows)

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Season both sides of each fillet generously with salt, pepper, and chile. Drizzle both sides with a little olive oil.When the grill is very hot but the flame has died down and the coals are completely covered with ash, put the mackerel, skin side down, on the grill. Cook for at least 2 minutes before moving it at all. In the meantime, watch for flare-ups, extinguishing them with a little water from a squirt bottle (beer works, too). It will take 4 to 6 minutes to cook the skin side. When the skin is crispy and deep golden brown, gently flip the fillets with a spatula. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes, until just cooked through. Serve with green sauce.

Green Sauce


2 cups loosely packed flat leaf parsley

1 cup loosely packed fresh, tender herb leaves such as tarragon, dill, chives, lemon balm, basil, mint, chervil and/or fennel fronds

2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 tbsp finely chopped brined capers

2 oil packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped

1 hard boiled egg yolk, finely grated

¼ tsp kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

chile flakes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

grated zest
juice of one half of lemon

Chop the parsley, herbs and scallions very fine. Put them in a small bowl and add capers, anchovies, egg yolk, salt, pepper and chile flakes to taste. Mix well and slowly drizzle in oil, stirring quickly. Add the lemon zest and juice, continue stirring. If the sauce seems too thick, add a touch more oil. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Smoked Mackerel

2 handfuls hardwood chips (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 mackerel fillets, about 1 pound, skin on
2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Soak the wood chips in water to cover for at least 1 hour, and as long as 24 hours. Mix together the salt and sugar and sprinkle the fish on both sides. Let sit for 30 to 40 minutes, refrigerated if the room is especially warm. Mix together the  pepper, mustard and lemon juice and rub into the fillets; marinate for another 30 minutes.

If you are using a charcoal grill, remove the racks and build a small fire. When the coals are hot, move them to one side, top with the chips, and replace the racks. Drain the fish of its accumulated liquid, brush off any of the rub that has not dissoved, and place the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil. Put the foil on the side of the grill away from the coals. Poke some holes in the foil and cover the grill, closing all the vents but one. Check the fish for doneness after 15 minutes.

If you are using a gas grill, remove the racks, turn the heat of one burner to low, and top the lava rocks or heat plate over that burner with the soaked chips. Replace the rack. Place the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil; put the foil on the side of the grill away from the lit burner. Poke some holes in the foil and cover the grill. Check the fish for doneness after 25 minutes; it should be firm, with a shiny crust, and opaque but not dry inside.

Fried Spanish Mackerel with Cilantro Sauce

Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine


2 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
2 Thai chiles or 1 large jalapeño, thickly sliced
3 medium shallots, 1 thickly sliced, 2 thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packed cup cilantro leaves and small sprigs
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
4 ounces fresh pork fat, cut into small dice, or 1/2 cup rendered lard (optional)
1 lb Spanish mackerel fillets with skin
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large mortar, pound the garlic to a paste with the chiles, thickly sliced shallot and sugar. Add the cilantro and pound to a paste. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice and water.

In a large skillet, cook the pork fat (substitute canola or olive oil if not using and just cook to heat) over moderately low heat until 1/2 cup of fat has rendered, about 20 minutes. Discard any solid bits of fat. Season the mackerel with salt and pepper. Heat the fat until shimmering. Add the fish, skin side down, and cook over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate, turn the fillets and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Transfer to plates. Add the thinly sliced shallots to the skillet and fry, stirring, until browned and crisp. Scatter the shallots over the fish. Spoon some of the cilantro sauce alongside and pass the rest of the sauce at the table.

%d bloggers like this: