MACKEREL IN SCAPECE WITH LEMON SALAD
Scapece was originally a method of preserving fish for a¬†week or two, and it still can be, but I love it for its¬†vibrant acid rush; it really tunes me up. Try to find¬†organic lemons, but regular lemons will be OK if you¬†scrub them well. The longer the lemon salad sits, the¬†sweeter it will be. If you can‚Äôt get high-quality mackerel,¬†you can substitute bluefish or even fresh sardines. As¬†with any oily fish, freshness is key: day 1, the fish is¬†great; day 2, it won‚Äôt be. LEMON SALAD
- 2 thin-skinned lemons, scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¬ľ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¬ľ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves cut into¬†chiffonade (thin slivers)
- 2 pounds freshest-possible king mackerel fillet,¬†skin on
- ¬Ĺ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 medium red onion, cut into ‚Öõ-inch-thick rounds
- ¬Ĺ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
- USING A VERY SHARP KNIFE, cut the lemons into¬†paper-thin slices. (The salad looks prettiest with whole¬†slices, but you may find it easier to cut the lemons¬†lengthwise in half first and then into paper-thin half¬†slices.)
- Layer the lemon slices in a large shallow baking dish.
- Sprinkle evenly first with the salt, then with the sugar,¬†and then the pepper. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Pour the olive oil evenly over the lemons. Allow to sit¬†for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
- Cut the mackerel into approximately 2-inch pieces. Put¬†them on a small baking sheet, brush on all sides with 2¬†tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and¬†pepper.
- Place the mackerel pieces skin side down on the hottest¬†part of the grill, leaving space between them, and cook,¬†unmoved, until the cooked look has crept up the sides¬†but the very top is still translucent, 3 to 5 minutes for¬†thinner pieces, 5 to 7 minutes for thicker pieces. As the¬†pieces cook, carefully remove them with tongs or a¬†spatula and place raw side down in one layer in a¬†shallow serving dish.
- Combine the vinegar, the remaining ¬ľ cup plus 2¬†tablespoons olive oil, the red onion slices, sugar, thyme,¬†and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan and bring¬†to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
- Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the mackerel fillets¬†and allow to stand for 3 to 5 minutes, just until the raw¬†bottom part has cooked through.
- Add the parsley to the lemons, toss to mix well, and¬†place on a serving platter. Stack the mackerel pieces on¬†top of the lemon salad. Drizzle some of the vinegar¬†mixture over the fish, and serve warm or at room¬†temperature.