My husband has described us as semi-committed locavores, which is an apt description, I think. While buying and eating locally grown products is important to us, there are some things we are comfortable making an exception for. While it may appear that some weeks we eat little more than pork in its various permutations, we have tried to incorporate lots of seafood into our diet. It’s something we both love, and the health benefits are many, so even though we try to eat fish from local waters, there are some varieties we will seek out from farther away.
Aside from anchovies, I didn’t really develop a taste for many of the oily, dark-fleshed varieties of fish until a year or two ago, and now, I actually crave them. Fresh or tinned sardines find their way into many meals or snacks, and bluefish is a regional favorite I can’t get enough of, but the mere mention of mackerel by Molly of Orangette a couple of days ago sent me into a frenzy. We used to get beautiful specimens from the seafood vendors at Union Square, but finding mackerel is more of a hit-or-miss operation here. But I had to have it, and Mike obliged, traveling to not one but two different Whole Foods seafood counters in an effort to bring me my mackerel.
Particularly in summer, I tend to like my seafood simple – a little fresh lemon juice, olive oil or butter, maybe some fresh herbs or a simple condiment, and away we go. But the minute I knew I wanted mackerel, I also knew how I wanted to prepare it. I mixed up a marinade that would also serve as a sauce for the finished fish: tart lime juice, salty tamari, some olive oil and a copious amount of chopped lemongrass, ginger and garlic, whisked together and poured over the fish. I reserved a little of the mixture for later, and let the mackerel fillets marinate for half an hour or so – long enough for a round of cocktails and to build our fire on the grill.
Since the fillets were on the small side, we placed them in a grill basket for ease of cooking. Mike grilled them for a couple of minutes skin side down, rotated the basket (still on the skin side) and let them go a couple of minutes more, and finally flipped the basket and finished cooking the mackerel on the flesh side. They came off after less than 10 minutes total, and I served them on a bed of black rice and arugula, with thinly sliced scallions scattered on top, and the reserved marinade on the side for drizzling or dunking.
The fish wasn’t from local waters, and the flavors were definitely inspired by faraway lands, but sometimes a little taste of the exotic is just what the doctor ordered.