Recipe: Grilled Mackerel With Fig and Citrus Dressing
There is nothing more seductive than the taste and texture of ripe figs. I like to pair them with the bright taste of citrus and the bite of shallots to offset the richness of the mackerel. The mackerel cooks very quickly due to its thin fillet so this whole dish can come together in a matter of minutes. I like to grill spicy greens such as mustard or turnip to accompany the meal.
Serves four as an entrée
4 each fillets Boston mackerel, skin on 5 ounces each
4 each ripe figs, either brown or green, cut into eighths
1 orange, cut into segments
1 shallot, peeled and sliced as thin as possible
1 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
Prepare a charcoal grill with the coals on one side of the grill.
For the fig dressing, combine the figs, shallots, orange segments, olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl. Season with salt and toss to combine. Allow to sit at least 10 minutes for the flavors to harmonize.
For the mackerel, season generously with salt and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Brush the fillets with half a tablespoon of the olive oil and place skin side down away from the flame. Cover the grill and allow to cook for about 12 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through. Rotate the grill grate so that the fish is over the flame and cook for another minute to get the fish hot. Remove from the grill and top each fillet with a spoonful of the fig dressing and serve immediately.
Wine From Water
When making wine, the place matters. That’s why certain regions are famous for different personalities in the wines they produce. These differences are all attributed to the idea of terroir, a French term describing the soil, air, sunshine, rain, and everything else about a place that’s reflected in the bottle.
The ocean also has an impact on the character of wines. Wine is simply water that has passed through a vine and into a grape. The ocean is also a conductor of Earth's intricately orchestrated weather, which affects the growing of all agricultural products. In some areas, the ocean has an even more decided impact on the growing conditions in a vineyard, and I call that merroir.
I saw this firsthand during my trip to the Iron Horse Vineyards. Nestled in the rolling hills of Sonoma County just 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the coast, these vineyards are altogether different from those in neighboring Napa Valley. The difference is in the proximity to the sea.
Each afternoon the air, warmed through by full sun, begins to rise. As this happens, cool air is funneled inland through a gap in the coastal mountains. As this cool air rolls in from offshore it condensates into fog and blankets the vineyards in a shadowy, cool mist.
Grapes, just like tomatoes, need that warm sun in order to ripen and become sweet. Because they’re cut off from late afternoon rays, the grapes ripen over a longer period of time, retaining more of their natural acidity and slowly developing varietal character. Think of it this way: In Napa Valley, where the sun shines brightly from morning till dusk, the grapes are like a grilled steak—meaty and dense, bold with flavor. And over on the cooler Sonoma coast, the grapes are like a slow braise of beef, simmered gently over hours and hours, developing flavor with harmony and balance.
Don't get me wrong. Napa wines are fantastic, but they have a different personality, and the growing conditions are best for hearty grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. In the Iron Horse Vineyards, Joy Sterling and her family have for generations tended to finicky, delicate grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. When these grapes finally ripen on the vine, they are perfect for making sparkling wine full of a bright acidity and brilliant aromas.
This is why we partnered to make a wine specifically to pair with your favorite sustainable seafood dishes. Think about the bright burst of fresh lemon juice sprinkled over a fillet of pristine fish! That acid really accentuates and highlights the natural flavors of the seafood. And so does the Iron Horse Ocean Reserve Cuvee. A great accompaniment to seafood, because the ocean made it that way!
More Cook-Wise Webisodes
Join Barton Seaver on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, where he meets a father-son crab-fishing team working to keep a family business and a local tradition alive.
The striped bass represents one of the greatest success stories in conservation to date. Join waterman Rick Morlock and the Blue Ocean Institute’s Carl Safina to discuss the phenomenon and catch a few beauties to grill up Seaver-style.
Follow Barton Seaver as he visits the owners of a hundred-year-old oyster company who are working to keep the famous oysters on the map—and on our plates.
Join Barton Seaver on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and learn why a little fish called menhaden has a big importance to the health of the ocean.
Slow-roasted chicken and late summer vegetables are on chef Barton Seaver's menu when he visits the Chesapeake Bay.
- National Geographic Weekend: Lionfish
- National Geographic Weekend: Oysters
- National Geographic Weekend: Striped Bass
- National Geographic Weekend: Ceviche
- National Geographic Weekend: Pork Chops
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- Ballard, Robert
- Bowermaster, Jon
- De Rothschild, David
- Doubilet, David
- Earle, Sylvia
- Frozen Seafood Benefits
- Goodman, Beverly
- Habitat Destruction
- Invasive Species
- Kristof, Emory
- Marine Food Chain
- Marine Pollution
- Nicklen, Paul
- Norman, Brad
- Ocean Overview
- Pristine Seas Expeditions
- Sala, Enric
- Seafood Decision Guide
- Seafood Substitutions
- Sea Level Rise
- Sea Temperature Rise
- Seaver, Barton
- Sustainable Seafood
- Thys, Tierney
- Tips to Save the Ocean
Barton Seaver, Chef/Conservationist
Barton Seaver is a chef who has dedicated his career to restoring the relationship we have with our ocean. It is his belief that the choices we are making for dinner are directly impacting the ocean and its fragile ecosystems.
Learn how to eat healthy while lowering your seafood footprint.
Find out how we can balance our tastes with what's right for the oceans.
Learn how to make sustainable choices when selecting your favorite seafood.
With today's technology, the fish you pull from your freezer is delicious, nutritious, more economical, and often better for the environment—and fishermen—than fresh-caught seafood.
Support the Ocean
Help protect the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean so we can learn how to help healthy reefs thrive, help unhealthy reefs recover, and better preserve the ocean.
Engage, Conserve, Restore
The National Geographic Society’s freshwater initiative is a multi-year global effort to inspire and empower individuals and communities to conserve freshwater and preserve the extraordinary diversity of life that rivers, lakes, and wetlands sustain.