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Chef Andrew Nguyen’s Roasted Atlantic Mackerel with Horseradish-Mustard Sauce

December 28, 2010

Today’s entry features a recipe from Executive Chef Andrew Nguyen of Square One Restaurant in Key West.

Here in the Florida Keys, locally caught seafood is a huge part of our native cuisine.  However, only a few species of fish are routinely served on menus: yellowtail snapper, grouper, and wahoo. Occasionally, you’ll find hogfish and cobia.

Statistically, our oceans are in big trouble, unable to keep up with the human demand for seafood. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, nearly 75% of the world’s fisheries are being exploited at an unsustainable level.

When choosing seafood, it is important to avoid any seafood which is overfished, in danger of being overfished in the near future, or caught using fishing techniques such as trawling or longlining which result in environmental damage and large amounts of “bycatch.”

Diversifying our seafood choices can help take some of the pressure off the struggling fisheries. Here in the Keys, plenty of perfectly edible fish such as mangrove snapper, grunts, and mackeral are routinely discarded or chopped up and used as chum–a wasteful practice that can disrupt the natural behavior of marine life.

What follows is Chef  Andrew’s take on his favorite sustainable seafood–mackerel:

Mackerel….one of my personal favorite fish, full of deep flavors with its natural oil and firm texture.  For centuries, mackerel has been a dietary staple throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia. Here in the States, its pretty much relegated to sushi bars. In the Keys, it’s either used as baitfish or chum, or turned into fishdip.  Fishdip!  Frankly, the mackerel deserves better.

Roasted Atlantic Mackerel with Horseradish-Mustard Sauce

Serves 4

2 tbs Olive Oil
4  6oz Fresh Mackerel Fillets (skin on)
1 tbs Chopped Shallot
3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
1 cup White Wine
1 cup Heavy Cream
3 tsp Horseradish
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 oz Whole Butter

The Fillets:

Preheat a non stick pan over medium-high heat. Season mackerel fillets on both sides. Sear fillets skin side down in olive oil until skin gets crispy. Place fish in oven at 400 F for 5 to 7 minutes.

The Sauce:

In a sauce pan, “sweat” shallots (cook until transparent) over medium-high heat with a bit of butter. Add herbs, horseradish, mustard and white wine. Allow sauce to reduce by half.  Add heavy cream and Worcestershire sauce. Allow sauce to reduce by half again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Wisk in cold butter, strain the sauce.


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