on the grill: mackerel


1Last week I was cruising through the grocery store when I came across some whole, wild, line caught mackerel from Quebec. Despite the fact that I’ve never eaten (let alone cooked) mackerel, they looked so beautiful that I couldn’t resist grabbing a few of them to experiment with. The mackerel needed to be cleaned before it was grill ready, but the whole process actually proved to be pretty painless (I used this guide) .  I know that the idea of cleaning and serving a whole fish may make some people a bit squeamish, but it is exactly the kind of project you should take on if you are interested in getting serious about food. Not only can you save a bit of money by handling your own butchering, but it also gives you complete control over how you want to proceed with your meal. I opted to keep things simple: grilled whole mackerel with citrus and fresh oregano. 3 fish, 3 pieces of citrus fruit, and some fresh herbs. Simple, fresh, and clean.



The preparation of this meal could not be easier. I rarely cook from a recipe (and this blog isn’t meant to just regurgitate recipes at the reader) so don’t  think that what I’ve done here is anything definitive. If you want to try this out and tweak some things here and there, by all means please go for it. That is kind of the point of this blog, afterall. Either way, here’s the rundown.

  • Clean fish, and remove all of the mackerel’s internals from the belly cavity. See youtube link above if you feel like playing fishmonger for the afternoon and taking care of your own cleaning.
  • Create a handful of shallow slits alongside each side of the fish (mine were generally about a centimeter deep).
  • Line the body cavity of the fish with your citrus and fresh oregano. I opted to use lemon, lime, and clementine as my citrus base here.
  • Brush outside of fish with vegetable oil and a bit of salt before grilling.
  • Grill on medium heat until fish is cooked through. When the citrus inside begins to look as if it is being steamed, you know the heat has permeated the entirety of the fish. Be careful not to overcook the mackerel though, nobody likes overdone fish.
I served this alongside some fresh steamed heirloom beans that the lovely & talented Lauren Cheong brought over and finished the plate off with a couple servings of Thomas Keller’s potato pave.
All photography by Lauren Cheong.

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