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Spanish Mackerel

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    Spanish Mackerel

    During the fall we see a terrific run of Spanish mackerel at Seahorse Reef, just off Cedar Key in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. These are hard-fighting, tasty fish that clearly were created for the grill. Regrettably, the fish are poor keepers and should be used within a few days if fresh, or a week or so if frozen. Otherwise they start to develop a "fishy" flavor as the fish oils react with oxygen in the air. I went mackerel fishing on Friday, and tonight the wife and I enjoyed our first mackerel fillets of the fall cooked as follows:

    1. Rinse the fillet and pat it dry with a cloth.
    2. Oil the skin side of the fillet so it will not stick to the grill or grill basket (preferred). I used olive oil.
    3. Place skin side down on the grill basket or grill.
    4. Sprinkle the non-skin side with salt, pepper and Emeril’s Fish Rub.
    5. Drizzle the non-skin side with lemon juice.
    6. Drizzle the non-skin side with butter or margarine.
    7. Grill approximately 10-20 minutes over indirect heat until the fillet flakes when poked with a fork.

    The skin and the thin strip of red meat down the center of the fillet are not eaten as they tend to taste "fishy", and the center strip may contain small feather bones. The light meat has a delightful "nutty" flavor in truly fresh fillets.

    I used a 22 inch Weber Performer equipped with a Slow N Sear loaded with about 3/4 of a chimney of fully lit Kingston Blue Bag and a full tank of water. No wood was added for smoke as the charcoal adds plenty of flavor when used in this manner. I didn't bother to monitor or regulate the grill's surface temperature. Instead, I ran it hot, with all vents fully open. The thermometer on the lid typically reads 450 degrees when I operate the grill in this manner.

    The fillets turned out very moist and flaky, whereas they tended to dry out a lose flavor in years past when I cooked them over direct heat. It appears that the indirect method also gives the cook several minutes leeway in deciding when to take the fillet off the grill. In contrast, fillets cooked over direct heat are much less forgiving and must be taken off the grill at exactly the right time to avoid overcooking.
    Last edited by Courtneych; September 28, 2015, 08:03 AM.

    #2
    Amen to indirect cooking. That water reservoir does more than people realize, not only for added moisture, but as a heat barrier.

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      #3
      Great post Courtneych! I love fish on the grill, sadly I don't do it often. I/we appreciate your sharing this.

      When you get a minute, we'd love to see an introduction post from you over in our Introduce Yourself channel.

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        #4
        Courtneych, I live on the Gulf Coast also and have enjoyed (mostly) King and Spanish Mackerel. My results have been inconsistent. Like you, I found that it is best to eat it fresh. I try to only bring home enough to eat in one meal or share with others... I don't want to put any in the freezer. Thanks for the post!

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        • Courtneych
          Courtneych commented
          Editing a comment
          I just catch and release any king mackerel -- lots of fun when you snag a big smoker king on light tackle. I no longer eat any king mackerel because the big ones are contaminated with enough mercury to fill a thermometer.

        #5
        This may be heresy, but I should also point out that it is good as sashimi.

        Comment


          #6
          Thanks for posting this, as a land locked prairie dweller other than fresh BC or Alaskan cod, sole or salmon and halibut (only in season) we get very little truly "fresh" fish.

          My grocery store often has Spanish mackerel on ice, and I have been meaning to get around to smoking one. My question is is it worth buying in that state given some of the comments above regarding fishiness?

          The other one we sometimes get is fresh sea bream which they get straight from the Aegean sea and comes in less than 24 hours after it has been caught. I can't wait for the next load of those to come in, they are amazing roasted and I can't ee them being anything other than stellar on the smoker.

          Comment


          • Courtneych
            Courtneych commented
            Editing a comment
            You can always try a Spanish mackerel from your grocery to see if it is sufficiently fresh that it does not taste "fishy". Try to buy one on the day comes into the store to insure maximum freshness and use my recipe given above.

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