Nathan Outlaw’s Barbecued Mackerel With Fennel, Red Onion and Orange Salad

Barbecue season is upon us, and to save of us from another summer of burnt burgers and sandy sausages, Nathan Outlaw has given his favourite fail-safe fish recipe. 

Mackerel is one of my favourite fish to barbecue and when it’s super-fresh it is hard to beat. With all those omega-3s it’s really good for you, and generally reasonably priced too. Sardines, bass or grey mullet would work equally well for this dish. Follow my barbecue technique and you won’t overcook the fish or make it stick to the grid.

4 large or 8 small mackerel, gutted,
butterflied and pin-boned

For the marinade:
4 tsp cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
4 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
2 tsp sea salt
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
100ml olive oil

For the salad:
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 red chilli, finely sliced
50ml white wine vinegar
2 large or 3 small oranges
2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed
100ml olive oil
15 basil leaves, finely sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Serves 4

For the marinade, toast the cumin seeds in a hot, dry pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a small food processor and add the garlic, rosemary, salt and orange zest. Pour in the olive oil and add a few turns of black pepper. Blitz for 1 minute.

Light your barbecue around 30 minutes before you are planning to start cooking. At the same time, lay the butterflied mackerel on a tray and rub the marinade into the fillets; set aside.

For the salad, toss the red onions and chilli with the wine vinegar and the grated zest and juice of 1 orange; set aside.

Cut away the peel from the other orange(s), removing all white pith, then cut out the segments from between the membranes over a bowl, so the segments fall into the bowl; put to one side.

Finely slice the fennel using a mandoline if you have one, or a sharp knife. Put the fennel into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, then add the olive oil and mix well; set aside.

Just before you are ready to cook the mackerel, add the basil and oranges to the fennel salad and toss together, then fold through the red onion mix.

To cook the mackerel, scrape off any excess marinade and carefully lay the mackerel skin side down on the barbecue grid. Don’t be tempted to move it now or you may tear the skin (which is protecting the fish). The flesh will quickly turn from pink to white as it cooks.

When each fillet is white three-quarters of the way through, carefully turn it onto a baking tray. Once you have all the mackerel on the baking tray, place it on the barbecue grid for 1 minute to finish cooking.

Serve the barbecued mackerel straight away, with the salad and lemon wedges.

Nathan Outlaw’s Home Kitchen by Nathan Outlaw (Quadrille, £20) Photography ©David Loftus