Mackerel is one of those fish that you can easily be put off.  By that I mean that if the only way you’ve ever tried it is by way of the vacuum-packed flabby cold smoked stuff they sell in the supermarket, you probably think you don’t like it.  However, fresh grilled mackerel is a whole different ball game.  Although it’s an oily fish, if you grill it this way the flesh is nothing but tender and not at all cloying, even though you’re still getting the benefit of all those wonderful essential fatty acids we’re all supposed to eat more of!  So give these pretty, colourful beauties a go – they’re as cheap as they are tasty.  I usually go for one each, with salad and baked potatoes.

4 fresh whole mackerel
2 teaspoons harissa paste
4 garlic cloves, quartered
1 lemon, juice only
Sprigs of fresh rosemary

1) First, gut your mackerel.  This is pretty easy – get a strong carrier bag with no holes in to do it over as you won’t want this hanging around in your kitchen bin especially on a warm day!  Using a small kitchen knife, push the point in under the fish’s chin and make a downwards incision along the crease until you hit resistance about 3cm from the tail.  The guts will probably spill out of their own accord somewhat but I use a pointy teaspoon to scrape out all the gunk.  Then just give them a good rinse under the cold tap.

2)Make 4 fairly deep slashes diagonally in the flesh of each side of the fish.  Then stick a piece of garlic into four of the slashes, a sprig of rosemary in the other.  Smear half a teaspoon of harissa paste into the cavity of each fish. 

3)Lay the fish in a shallow dish and cover with the lemon juice.  Just as you put them on the barbecue, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.  Grill for about 5 minutes on each side and enjoy with gusto!

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