Holy mackerel

Hot. Tired. Grumpy. Ready to hang out with the Gus the Wonder Dog, continue feeding my Big Love DVD addiction, and go to bed early. Lame? Perhaps, but it's exactly what I wanted Friday night. I also needed to eat dinner.

My Core Sound Seafood share arrived Thursday afternoon and CSA produce came in the night before that. Finding food wasn't an issue, but keeping my meal low key was. I'm not afraid of time in the kitchen or elaborate preparations, but hot + tired + grumpy = simple supper. The more intricate preparations I'd considered Thursday night were no longer an option.

Sleek, golden-spotted Spanish mackerel fillets and a big bag of clams made up this week's seafood delivery. Mackerel is a fishy fish, usually assertive. If it had a volume, mackerel would fall on the medium-loud end of the dial. I was (happily) surprised by how gentle Friday's mackerel was. Can you use the word gentle to describe a fish fillet? Freshness made a tremendous difference.

Grilled Spanish Mackerel with Lemon and Oregano

Rinse mackerel fillet(s) with water and pat dry. Make a few shallow slices through the skin before lightly coating it with olive oil.

For one fillet, I cut 2 thin slices from a lemon from the refrigerator, cut those in half, and  chopped a handful of fresh oregano. I stuffed the slits (on the skin side) with the herbs, then flipped the fillet and and covered the flesh with additional oregano and the lemon slices. I set the remaining 1/2 lemon aside for grilling, inspired by Mark Bittman's recent NY Times article, 101 Fast Recipes for Grilling. I let the fish marinate for about 30 minutes.

I sprinkled kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides of the fillet, then lit the grill. Roughly 12 minutes later I enjoyed an absolutely marvelous meal.

Start grilling the fish skin side down. My fillet was thin, and it was only 3-4 minutes before it was time to flip. It cooked for another minute or so before I removed it (and the half lemon ) from the grill.

A few tips:
  • Be certain the grill is hot and clean, sparing yourself the agony of a big, sticky mess. I've come close to tears when my meal clings to the grates. 
  • Oil the grill well before using. I often use old (clean) t-shirt scraps, dip them into canola oil, and rub them along the grill grates with tongs. Sometimes I'll cut an onion in half, spear it with a large meat fork, dip it in oil, and use that instead. 
  • Tempted though you may be to fuss with the fish, you only need to flip it once. Start skin side down in this case, resist the urge to poke and pry, then flip after 3-4 minutes. Allow it to finish cooking (again, let it be) flesh side down. This will only take another minute or two.
  • Before grilling the lemon half, brush the cut side lightly with canola (or another neutral) oil.


  1. great recipe adore simple fish recipes, nice to meet another NC food blogger


  2. Rebecca - Thanks for stopping by!