Grilled mackerel fish cooked in a parchment pouch eliminates concerns about fish odor when cooking. This mackerel recipe also proves that pan-fried mackerel can look just like grilled mackerel, but without the open flame. You can easily adapt this in your kitchen for any fish.

Grilled mackerel is served with soy sauce and lemon wedges in a white plate

Grilled mackerel is delicious, no doubt about it! I think mackerel fish is one of most underrated types of fish in any cuisine. It has tremendous health benefits, and people need to consume more of this tasty blue-back fish. Reasons why I love mackerel:

  • Rich taste: Mackerel has a rich taste with a slightly smoky flavor. It also has a firm texture that holds together. You can actually use chopsticks to pick the pieces up.
  • Inexpensive: Mackerel is cheap, but the downside is mackerel is not always available in your local grocery stores. If you go to Asian markets, you will find stacks of fresh mackerel. The cost is around $2 per fish and the fish guy will clean it for you however you like.
  • Good source of omega-3 acids: Mackerel is higher in inflammation-fighting omega-3 acids than other commonly eaten fish. It is also a good source of vitamin B6 and niacin, which are important for our health.

NOTE: Not all Mackerel gets a thumbs up. Some mackerel can have concerns with mercury. Avoid King mackerel or Spanish mackerel for that reason. I recommend Atlantic and Alaska mackerel. And with any blue-backed fish, try not to consume it too often. (No matter how good the fish is for you, you shouldn’t eat them everyday.)

Mackerel fish grilled in a parchment paper is showing its charred look

If you are a fish lover, you should try a Korean grilled mackerel recipe called “godeungeo gui (고등어구이).” It is one of the most popular seafood dishes that people cook regularly.

Korean grilled fish doesn’t always require an open flame grilling method, especially when cooking at home. In everyday cooking, we use a skillet to pan-grill the fish or an oven to broil the fish. This recipe will show that pan-fried mackerel can look just like grilled mackerel without the open flame. You can easily accomplish this in your kitchen.

Salted mackerel fillets are stacked together on a plate

Often, salted mackerel is used instead of fresh mackerel, but you can use either one for this grilled mackerel recipe. It’s similar to a Japanese grilled mackerel fillet but the cooking method is slightly different.

If you are looking for more mackerel recipes, try my soy braised mackerel and radish or goglabi (Pan-fried mackerel with the gochujang sauce). These recipes put completely different twists on the preparation of mackerel.

How to pick the best fresh mackerel:

Fresh mackerel should have firm flesh, clean and shimmering skin, and bright eyes. Make sure to keep the skin on when you ask the butcher to clean and fillet it for you. The skin will keep the flesh moist, and it provides the smoky flavor.

How to salt mackerel fish:

Make sure your fish is cleaned and filleted. Sprinkle kosher salt or sea salt liberally over the fish and let it marinate for 10-15 minutes. You can, then, freeze the fish for up to 3 months.

Mackerel fish is grilled to a perfection in a parchment paper

The main concern for any grilled mackerel recipe, whether for Korean home cooks or any other cook, is the fish odor during the cooking. Mackerel is notorious for a serious fish smell during and after the grilling or pan-frying (pan-frying is the worst).

Here I give you a few tips to reduce or even eliminate the fish odor so that you can enjoy this amazing fish without stressing about getting rid of the smell in the kitchen.

3 Tips for perfect pan-grilled mackerel

  1. Use rice water to soak the fish for 10 minutes. This is a good method especially if you are using the heavily salted mackerel that are sold in stores. Soaking helps to get rid of some of the extreme saltiness. It also helps reduce the fish odor. (You can skip this process if using fresh mackerel.)
  2. Use vinegar. Brush mackerel fillets with a small amount of vinegar. It firms up the flesh and makes the fish more enjoyable. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the vinegar at all.
  3. Use parchment paper. It not only locks in the moisture within your mackerel, it also seals the smell from sneaking outside. Once cooking is finished, the fish odor is gone and you will be surprised at the outcome–perfect-looking grilled mackerel.
Grilled mackerel fish fillets are on a plate with soy sauce and lemon wedges and served with rice.

How to Grill Mackerel in a pan

If using an already salted mackerel fish, soak it in rice water for 10 minutes to reduce some of the saltiness. Take the fish out of the water and dry completely with a paper towel.

Apply a thin coat of vinegar (about 1 teaspoon) on both sides of the mackerel flesh and skin. Brush a piece of parchment paper with some oil.

Place the mackerel fillet in the parchment paper and fold it over the fish. Fold the sides of paper twice to make a pouch and seal the fish inside.

Place the pouch, folded side down, in a large pan over medium low heat and cover with a lid, cook for 6-7 minutes. When you see the pouch is puffing high, turn the pouch to the other side carefully so that the fish will stay flat inside.

You should see the bottom side of parchment paper showing golden brown. Cover and continue to cook for another 6-7 minutes over medium low heat. Open the pouch carefully using scissors and let the steam escape.

Serving suggestion

Place the grilled mackerel on a serving plate with lemon wedges and soy sauce for dipping. When ready to serve, squeeze the lemon over the fish. Take a piece of fish and dip it lightly in the soy sauce. Serve with rice.

Side dishes to go with grilled fish: Korean Bean Sprout Side Dish (Kongnaul Muchim), Korean Spinach Side Dish (Sigeumchi Namul), Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)

More Mackerel Recipes

Grilled mackerel is served with soy sauce and lemon wedges in a white plate

Grilled Mackerel in a Pan

Grilled mackerel cooked in a parchment pouch eliminates concerns about fish odor when cooking. This mackerel recipe also proves that pan-fried mackerel can look just like grilled mackerel, but without the open flame.
5 from 2 ratings

Ingredients

  • 1 mackerel fish, salted if available or use fresh, filleted
  • 2 cup rice water
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce, to serve with
  • 2 slices lemon wedges, to serve with

Instructions 

  • If using an already salted mackerel fish, soak it in rice water for 10 minutes to reduce some of the saltiness. If using fresh fish, soak for 5 minutes.
  • Take the fish out of the water and dry completely with a paper towel. Apply a thin coat of vinegar on both sides of the mackerel flesh and skin.
  • Brush a piece of parchment paper with some oil. Place the mackerel fillet in the parchment paper and fold it over the fish. Fold the sides of paper twice to make a pouch and seal the fish inside.
  • Place the pouch, folded side down, in a large pan over medium low heat and cover with a lid, cook for 6-7 minutes. When you see the pouch is puffing high, turn the pouch to the other side and cover. Continue to cook for another 5-6 minutes.
  • Open the pouch carefully using scissors and let the steam escape. Place the grilled mackerel on a serving plate with lemon wedges and soy sauce for dipping. When ready to serve, squeeze the lemon over the fish. Take a piece of fish and dip it lightly in the soy sauce. Serve with rice.
Calories: 362kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 46g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 106mg, Sodium: 696mg, Potassium: 933mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 140IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 54mg, Iron: 3mg
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