Mackerel with Date Butter

dates mackerel with date butter
Photo: Bobbi Lin

Sturdy mackerel can hold its own against strong flavors. Here, it's teamed with a sweet-and-savory combination of dates, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, lemon, and spices.


  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons date syrup

  • 2 mackerels (about 1 pound each), gutted and cleaned

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pint small cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish

  • 4 dates, pitted and chopped

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon cut into thin rounds for garnish

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  • Pinch of red-pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir to combine butter and 2 tablespoons date syrup in a small bowl. Brush the exterior of each fish with butter mixture until well coated. Season the cavities and exteriors of each fish with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high. Cook fish, turning once, until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer fish to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until fish is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.

  3. Place tomatoes, chopped cilantro, dates, oil, lemon zest and juice, cumin, paprika, red-pepper flakes, and remaining 2 teaspoons date syrup in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.

  4. To serve, transfer fish to a large platter and top with tomato-cilantro mixture. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lemon rounds.

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