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Mackerel is an oily fish that is perfect for smoking because it will not dry out as much as leaner white fish. Here it is seasoned with sugar, Dijon mustard, pepper, and lemon juice. Instructions are given for both a charcoal grill and gas grill. Other dark-fleshed, oily fish may be substituted for the mackerel. Plan ahead for marination time.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls hardwood chips (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 mackerel fillets, about 1 pound, skin on (see note)
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

Soak the wood chips in water to cover for at least 1 hour, and as long as 24 hours. Mix together the salt and sugar and sprinkle the fish on both sides. Let sit for 30 to 40 minutes, refrigerated if the room is especially warm. Mix together the pepper, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice and rub into the fillets; marinate for another 30 minutes.

If you are using a charcoal grill, remove the racks and build a small fire. When the coals are hot, move them to one side, top with the chips, and replace the racks. Drain the fish of its accumulated liquid, brush off any of the rub that has not dissoved, and place the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil. Put the foil on the side of the grill away from the coals. Poke some holes in the foil and cover the grill, closing all the vents but one. Check the fish for doneness after 15 minutes.

If you are using a gas grill, remove the racks, turn the heat of one burner to low, and top the lava rocks or heat plate over that burner with the soaked chips. Replace the rack. Place the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil; put the foil on the side of the grill away from the lit burner. Poke some holes in the foil and cover the grill. Check the fish for doneness after 25 minutes; it should be firm, with a shiny crust, and opaque but not dry inside.

Yield: 4 servings

Note: Any dark-flesh fish may be used.

Recipe Source: Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking by Mark Bittman (Macmillan)
Reprinted with permission.

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