Grilled Spanish Mackerel with Orange-Tarragon Salsa
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 pounds skin-on mackerel filet
1/2 red onion or 2 shallots, finely diced
Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
1. Mix water, salt and sugar until dissolved. Submerge mackerel in the brine, weighing it down with a plate, if necessary; soak 35 minutes.
2. Peel oranges, cut into segments; cut each segment into thirds and combine with onion, tarragon and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt, and toss well.
3. Remove fish from brine; pat dry. Season with coarsely ground pepper. Mackerel has enough fat that it will not need to be oiled before grilling if your grates are well-seasoned. Place fillet, skin side down, on the grill away from the coals of a small fire. Add a few fruitwood chips to the fire; cover grill. Cook until fish is no longer opaque, has taken on an even beige color and the flesh flakes under gentle pressure, about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish and heat of the fire.
4. Transfer fish to a platter, peeling off skin if you wish. Spoon salsa over fish, and serve immediately.
-- Barton Seaver, "Where There's Smoke"
(Sterling Epicure, $30, 304 pages)