Spanish Mackerel with Three Sauces

Christophe Emé pan-fries fish until the skin is beautifully crisp, then serves it alongside a trio of deeply flavored sauces.Plus: More Seafood Recipes and Tips

Spanish Mackerel with Three Sauces
Photo: © Anna Williams
Total Time:
1 hrs



  • Zest of 1 lemon, cut into 1/8-inch dice, plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1/2 mango—peeled, pitted and cut into 1/8-inch dice

  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped lemon thyme


  • 1 1/2 cups basil leaves

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped

  • 1/2 tablespoon pine nuts

  • Salt

Olive Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 3 tablespoons black-olive tapenade

  • Salt


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Four 6-ounce Spanish mackerel fillets, with skin

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook the lemon zest for 1 minute; drain. Repeat 2 more times. In the saucepan, combine the blanched lemon zest with the lemon juice, sugar and water and simmer over moderate heat until syrupy, about 8 minutes. Add the mango and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the lemon thyme.

  2. In a mini food processor, pulse the basil leaves with the olive oil, Parmesan, garlic and pine nuts until a sauce forms. Season the pesto with salt.

  3. In a saucepan, simmer the cream over moderately low heat until reduced by one-fourth, about 4 minutes. Add the tapenade and simmer for 1 minute. Season lightly with salt.

  4. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Season the mackerel with cayenne, salt and pepper. Add the fillets to the skillet, skin side down, and cook over high heat until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook just until done, about 2 minutes longer.

  5. Spoon the olive cream onto 4 plates and top with the mackerel. Dollop the lemon-mango confit on each plate and spoon the pesto alongside. Serve at once.

Make Ahead

The lemon-mango confit can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. The pesto and olive cream can be refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

A peachy white made from Spain's Viura grape.

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