SEA LIFE London Aquarium - Mackerel

Mackerel is a firm-fleshed, oil-rich, strong flavoured fish. It is also beautiful with a torpedo-like shape and iridescent silver and blue striped skin. It has an intense creamy flavoured meat which is packed with omega 3 fatty acids so is a very nutritious, healthy choice.

Mackerel is cheap to buy and very versatile; it can be grilled, fried, barbecued or poached. Because of its creamy taste it works well with strong, spicy flavours. Look out for smoked mackerel which is delicious simply torn into salads, mixed with crème fraiche and lemon juice to make pate or with potato to make fish cakes.

Fishing Methods

Most mackerel is caught using pelagic trawls which are associated with cetacean (whale and dolphin) bycatch. Smaller landing are also taken by purse seine fishing in the summer and early autumn; purse seining is an aggressive form of fishing in which one boat can catch up to 1,800 tons of fish a week, however it can be very selective with the right mesh size and shoal identification methods so involves little bycatch.

By far the best option is to look for UK line caught mackerel, a fantastic sustainable option! There is plenty of MSC certified mackerel knocking about on the supermarket shelves so keep your eyes peeled for that little blue label!

SEA LIFE London Aquarium - Mackerel on ice

Cornish Mackerel with grilled spring onion and cos lettuce salad

Use whole fish, heads off for ease.


  • Mackerel x 2 - heads off - ask your fishmonger if you're not up for a beheading.
  • A little herb and spice mix (I like to use a combination of Cajun spice and Herbs de Provence)
  • 1 Lemon
  • A bunch of spring onion
  • 1 Cos lettuce
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • French Dressing

A glass of something like a super chilled Riesling is best to cut through the oiliness - a Sauvignon Blanc would be awesome too!


  • Get the coals down to white on the BBQ - you need a good high heat but no flames.
  • Liberally sprinkle the mackerel with your spice mix and perhaps a little squeeze of lemon in the cavity.
  • Place the mackerel straight down onto the grill - do not be tempted to move it, poke it, or do anything to it at all. Flames may pop up around it, but this is fine - mackerel has an amazing skin that actually improves with a slight char.
  • Give it at least 2 minutes on one side then, using a spatula slowly ease it over onto the other side. If you feel any give or pull from the skin don't turn it - wait till it flips over easily.
  • Same for the other side.
  • Meanwhile prepare your salad.
  • Cut the Cos in half, sprinkle with salt, then dress.
  • Liberally dress the spring onion with olive oil then place onto the grill with the fish.
  • Allow to char slightly (I guarantee you've never tasted spring onion this good!)
  • Cut the tomatoes in half, season dip in olive oil and drop onto the BBQ.
  • Take the fish off and allow to rest for a few minutes.
  • Take off the spring onion and tomato - toss in the French dressing and place on top of the Cos.
  • Place the mackerel next to it, and add a lemon wedge.

You can also do this with a clutch of mackerel and do this dish as a sharing platter too.

This recipe was kindly provided by The Table Cafe.

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