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Crispy-Skinned Mackerel with Asian-Inspired Dressing

Mackerel is part of the same family as tuna. We’ve come to depend so heavily on tuna that it’s now under a huge amount of pressure – this really is the time to turn to mackerel as an alternative. It’s widely available in our waters and way down the food chain so we need to be buying and selling more of it, and learning how to cook and enjoy it. I like to treat mackerel more like a steak, and give it flavour and attitude to make it sing. It is so delicious, incredibly versatile and extremely good for you.


  • 1 mug of basmati rice

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 x 170g butterflied mackerel, skin on, scaled and pin-boned

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced

  • a couple of sprigs of fresh coriander, leaves picked and chopped

  • a couple of sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked

  • Optional: 1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced

  • Sauce

  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled

  • 1cm piece fresh ginger

  • 1 spring onion, trimmed

  • 1 fresh red chilli

  • 2 limes

  • a couple of sprigs of coriander, leaves picked

  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons runny honey

  • extra virgin olive oil


  • 1.

    Put a griddle pan on a high heat to get really hot. Add the rice to a pan with 2 mugs of boiling water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil on a high heat then turn the heat down to low, cover and leave for 7 to 8 minutes.

  • 2.

    Once the griddle is screaming hot, add the mackerel skin-side down (you may need to do this in batches). Use a fish slice to press the fish onto the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and finely grate over the zest of a lemon. Reduce to a medium-high heat and cook for about 8 minutes in total.

  • 3.

    Meanwhile, make your sauce. Use a fine grater to carefully grate the garlic, ginger, spring onion and chilli into a small bowl. Grate in the lime zest and mix, you should have a lovely slurry. Tear in the coriander leaves, add the sesame oil, soy sauce, honey and squeeze in the juice of the limes. Finish with a good lug of extra virgin olive oil then have a taste – you want to have a balance between sweet, sour, heat and fragrance.

  • 4.

    Check the mackerel, they should be lovely and dark on the skin side so carefully flip them over to finish cooking for a final few seconds. Check your rice; all of the water should have been absorbed. Divide the rice between your plates, top each portion with a piece of mackerel then drizzle over some of that gorgeous sauce. Scatter over the spring onion, mint, coriander and chilli, if using.


Serves 4

You can substitute the mackerel for herrings

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