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Quick Cured Broiled Mackerel

The brightness of a quick cure helps counter-balance the extreme fattiness of the mackerel

I’ve never been much of a mackerel fan, probably because my mom used to just boil it in water with fish sauce. That was an aroma that could clear a room quicker than a bomb threat. Then I discovered saba, the salted mackerel sushi, and I’ve been enjoying it in different ways ever since. Note: This recipe calls for unsalted mackerel!

Norwegian Saba straight from Marukai Market

Packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids, it’s a very healthy food option. Just note: this stuff is high in calories, cholesterol and fat so if you’re on a low-fat and/or low-cholesterol diet, eat this in moderation. For this preparation I broiled on foil for convenience, but it would be preferable to broil it on top of a fish rack (you need the small size grid to support the fragile mackerel) set over a foil-lined roasting pan. This way you let the maximum amount of fat drip away. Not to mention, you’ll get a crispier broil that way.

One last but important note: this quick cure method can be a very effective tool to add to your fish cooking arsenal. The salt penetrates all the way through the fish and will carry with it any flavors you add. For instance, try quick curing and broiling a salmon fillet with two slices of lemon and two sprigs of dill. Salt the fish first, top with aromatics, then wrap it all up in plastic, following the recipe below.

One whole fillet of unsalted mackerel, skin on
Kosher salt

Skin starting to bubble under the broiler

Liberally salt both sides of the mackerel, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. After just one hour the fish will be perfectly quick cured. Start by preheating your oven to high broil, then unwrap and wash the fish thoroughly under cold water. Be gentle – even uncooked mackerel is very fragile so it can turn to mush if you manhandle it. Dry fish with paper towel, then place on a plate lined with a doubled-up paper towel. Place another doubled-up paper towel on top and gently press to dry. You want the fish nice and dry so it can broil up as crisp as possible.

Line a heavy cookie sheet or roasting pan with foil and place fish on it, skin side up. Broil until the skin bubbles and starts to char slightly, about five minutes. Run a large spatula under the fish to separate it from the foil then flip it and broil another five minutes. Finish by flipping again and broiling one more minute.

Skin side finished one more minute, ready for plating

Remove to a paper towel lined plate to soak up oil. Place a large lettuce leaf on your serving plate and transfer fish on to the lettuce. Garnish with slices of lemon (we used some fantastic Meyer lemons we found from Old Macdonald’s Farmer’s Market in San Jose). Squeeze lemon juice onto fish right before eating.


About Huy-zer

Jack of all trades, master of none. Do not approach unless you're prepared for a blizzard of useless facts and 80's music trivia.


2 thoughts on “Quick Cured Broiled Mackerel

  1. Made this for dinner with Wifey’s Grandma last night. Just so you know, cooking mackerel has a pungent aroma that lingers for a while. You’ve been warned. Light a mess of scented candles around your kitchen or something.

    Posted by Huy-zer | November 30, 2011, 11:57 pm


  1. Pingback: Broiled Mackerel and Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin with Kale in Dashi Miso Sauce « You'll Have What We're Having - November 7, 2011

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