Loaded with Omega 3, Marinated Mackerel with Capers, Croutons and Herbs from Franny's

Second excerpt from Franny's Simple Seasonal Italian (Artisan Books, May 2013) by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark was Saturday into Sunday Cocktail, Sweet Olive, third and last excerpt of the book is a fish I think more popular in British than American kitchens.

Marinated Mackerel with Capers, Croutons, and Herbs

Serves 4 

You don’t see a lot of mackerel in this country, but it’s beloved in Italy, where it’s known as a member of the pesce azzurro (“blue fish”) family, a group that also includes anchovies and sardines. Americans tend to shy away from mackerel because they think it’s going to taste strong or fishy. But of all the fish in this family, mackerel is the sweetest and mildest. It’s savory, buttery, and rich, and it’s good for you, too, loaded with omega-3s. 


2⁄3 cup coarsely torn (1-inch pieces) country-style bread

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper 

4 skin-on mackerel fillets (about 11⁄4 pounds)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 1⁄4 cups plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3⁄4 teaspoon red chili flakes

2⁄3 cup white wine vinegar

2⁄3 cup moscato vinegar (see Resources, page 357)

12 large mint sprigs

Zest of 2 lemons, removed in large strips with a vegetable peeler

1⁄2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

8 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 1⁄2 cup)

Juice of 1⁄2 lemon, or more to taste

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

2 teaspoons brined capers, drained 

158_Marinated Mackerel with Capers, Croutons, and Herbs

To make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the bread pieces with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and toast until a dark caramel color, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool. 

1. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat, then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let it get hot but not smoking. Transfer 2 fillets to the pan, skin side down; if the skin begins to shrink instantly, you know the pan is hot enough. Cook the fish, undisturbed, for 11⁄2 minutes, pressing down on the fillets with a spatula to help brown the skin. Flip the fillets and cook for 10 seconds more. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Repeat with 2 more tablespoons olive oil and the remaining fish fillets.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and chili flakes to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the vinegars and mint sprigs, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and pour the mixture over the fish. Add 1 cup olive oil and the lemon zest to the baking dish. Let the fish cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours. 

3. Just before serving the fish, in a bowl, toss together the parsley, scallions, and lemon juice. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. 

4. To serve, place one mackerel fillet on each plate. Sprinkle with sea salt, and mound the parsley salad on top of the fish. Sprinkle sea salt over each salad. Scatter the croutons and capers over the dish and serve.

* Excerpted from Franny's Simple Seasonal Italian by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark (Artisan Books). Copyright 2013. Photographs by John von Pamer.)

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