Broiled Mackerel Lettuce Wraps
Yield: 4 servings
My parents live in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood, a fifteen-minute drive from my apartment. In “normal times,” I’d head over to their place every time I got a craving for my mom’s cooking. But during Covid-19, like many others, I’ve kept my distance from family in order to keep them safe. The way in which I’m trying to stay connected with them (aside from FaceTime dates), however, is still through food.
One of my favorite Korean meals is a humble one: godeungeo gui, which is grilled mackerel served with lettuce and rice. Salty fish wrapped in fresh, crunchy lettuce topped with spicy and sweet ssamjang is my version of a perfect meal. In this iteration of this dish, I treat the spicy and sweet sauce as more of a marinade and broil it on top of the fish, caramelizing the flavors and giving it a more depth to the flavor profile.
A note about mackerel: although I personally love it, I know it’s definitely not a gateway fish or everyone’s cup of tea. The beauty of this dish is that it’s easily swappable. Snapper, sea bass, and even salmon are all good options.
This recipe was published in The At Home Issue of Life & Thyme Post, our quarterly newspaper shipping exclusively to L&T members. Get your copy.
For the fish
- 4 boneless, skin-on mackerel filets
- ¼ tsp. salt per filet
For the sauce
- 6 cloves grated garlic
- 3-inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 tbsp. gochujang
- 2 tbsp. gochugaru
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. of sugar
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
For the scallion sauce
- 4-6 scallions (depending on size), thinly sliced. This should yield about ½ cup
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. gochugaru
For the wraps
- Lettuce for wraps (butter or little gem—anything that works for scooping up the fish and rice)
- Cucumber thinly sliced and/or radishes thinly sliced
- Cooked white rice
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- Make the marinade by grating garlic and ginger into a bowl. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients and whisk together until combined. Set aside.
- Prep your scallion sauce by thinly slicing the scallions and putting them in a bowl. Add the rest of the scallion sauce ingredients, mix together, and set aside. Be sure not to make this too early in advance; the scallions can wilt in the sauce if left for too long.
- Run the fish under cold water, and then pat dry with paper towels.
- Salt each filet and place on a lined half-sheet tray or any ovenproof pan.
- Turn your broiler on high. Place your oven rack about 6 inches from the top. Put the salted fish under the broiler and set a timer for 4 minutes. Make sure all four filets are directly under the heat of the broiler.
- After 4 minutes, remove fish from the oven and spread about a tablespoon of the marinade on each filet. Any extra marinade can be used for sauce to serve alongside the finished dish later.
- Place fish back under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes. Depending on how strong your broiler is, check after about a minute and move the pan around depending on where spots are getting the most heat to avoid burning. Because of the sugar in the marinade, the fish browns quickly.
- Remove from heat and it’s ready to serve. Serve alongside steamed rice, lettuce, and any other crunchy vegetables you want to include with your wraps. If you have any marinade leftover, add to the spread.
- To eat, grab a piece of lettuce, add a piece of fish, some rice, and some scallion sauce. Top with cucumber or radishes if you’d like. Eat and repeat.