Lemon n Butter Godeungeo Gui 레몬버터 고등어 구이 (Grilled Mackerel)

The most popular, commonly used fish in Korea is mackerel (godeungeo 고등어), a sleek-looking fish with a silver to black color combination. At most restaurants, it’s usually cooked and served in the most simple manner—grilled over charcoal briquettes. There is nothing wrong with grilled mackerel (I could eat it every day) , but having a variety never hurts especially when cooking this at home. So when I found some Jeju mackerel at the store (unfortunately no fresh ones available), I knew I wanted to experiment using different ingredients and techniques. For those who are not familiar with mackerel, this is a great fish with a high oil content, firm flesh, and distinct taste. And like most other fish, the less you mess with the fish during the cooking process, the better it tastes. However, the only knock about cooking mackerel on the stove top is that it normally leaves a lingering fishy odor in the home, especially if you do not have good ventilation. For this particular recipe though, the fish smell is lessened due to the marination of fish with some olive oil and lemon juice. I have used this combination before with other fish like salmon and halibut with pretty good results, and fortunately this combination works just as well with mackerel. This is very easy to make at home using standard stove top but grilling is ideal. I was so pleased with the results I bought a few more mackerel and made several other dishes using this versatile fish. For example, if you do not have lemon and olive oil, you can cook this in butter or you can make a spicy sauce using gochujang (red pepper paste). Since grilling is the best cooking method for this fish with its high-oil content, I will definitely try this combination grilled over briquettes. Whichever way you decide to cook them, the result should always be a very satisfying, healthy dish.

“I know that the human being and the fish can coexist peacefully.” ~ George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. President

“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll sit in a boat with a fishing pole and drink beer all day.” ~ Lorena McCourtney


Most frozen mackerel are pre-salted and can be grilled as-is without any seasonings or rubs. This Jeju one didn’t, so I rubbed on some sea salt and pepper before cooking it on the stove top.
For extra flavor, I highly recommend marinating the fish in some lemon juice and olive oil. I didn’t have a resealable bag to really lock in flavors, but this worked out for me.
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After cutting the fish into pieces (which is optional), rub on some salt and pepper. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
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Melt some butter on medium heat setting. Cook skin-side down until crisp and slightly burnt. This will make the fish easier to eat later as the meat will just peel away from the skin.
Try to avoid flipping over more than once to prevent the fish from breaking. Cook about 10 minute total. Remove fish and squeeze in lemon juice and extra butter if needed.
Lemon and butter mackerel with good ol’ rice. Darn, I forgot to add the kimchi!
Instead of the standard salty mackerel, this had some added complexity with the butter and lemon juice.
Here’s a dish that was just marinated with lemon juice and olive oil overnight. It came out delicious and even better with the soy/wasabi dipping sauce.
Using a combination of gochujang, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and honey, this was a nice glazed mackerel that came out totally different than your standard mackerel but good nonetheless. I’m thinking my blow torch will come in handy with this version.

Godeungeo Gui 고등어 구이 (Grilled Mackerel)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 2 packages godeungeo (mackerel), or 1 large fresh mackerel
  • 1 lemon, squeezed for juice and cut thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper for rub
  1. If using fresh mackerel, degut and clean well before use. Split in half using a sharp knife and clip off fins.
  2. Combine fish, squeezed lemon juice, and olive oil in an air-tight resealable bag. Let marinate at least 20~30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. In a non-stick frying pan, heat some butter and cook the mackerel on medium heat, about 5 minutes for each side. Cook skin-side down first until well-browned, almost burnt. Do not flip often as this will break the fish into pieces.
  4. When finished, remove fish to a serving plate. Melt additional butter and squeeze in lemon juice.
  5. Pour over the fish and serve immediately.



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