April 17, 2010

Grilled Mackerel with couscous salad

Mackerel with couscous salad




After making the Devilled Mackerel recipe and finding out Steve really didn’t like the bones, I decided to try filleting the whole fish myself and simply grill them. I watched a How To Fillet Mackerel video on the uktv.co.uk site by James Martin, but I found it easier to start at the tail end (instead of the head end) and cut along the backbone and against the spine, all the way down towards the head. Filleting the fish was easy, it was just pulling out all the bones that was time consuming!


Mackerel is so cheap - two whole fish cost just £1.67 from Tesco and this was the reduced price! We’re trying to eat more of it because it’s good for you and we need to eat more oily fish. I have developed eczema as I’ve grown older and I take Omega 3 fish oil supplements (when I remember!) to help my skin, but I prefer to get the nutrients from my food.


Luckily I’d kept an article from my Delicious magazine about how to cook fish and it said grilling was the best method for fish like mackerel and sardines. I just slashed the skin to stop the fillets from curling up, drizzled both sides with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I loved the simplicity as it allowed the flavour of the fish to shine.


The couscous salad is something that Steve and I make quite a lot in the Summer. It’s just plain couscous with chopped up bits of whatever veg we can lay our hands on (like carrot, cucumber, tomato, sweetcorn) and then we mix in a dollop of Salad Cream and chilli ketchup. I’d never thought of adding Salad Cream to couscous, but Steve puts it on everything and it really works with the couscous by giving it a nice zing!


During my cooking course at Tante Marie I learned a new way to prepare couscous from one of the teachers called John. He said to add the olive oil to the dry couscous, then to add the hot water. The oil coats the grains so they become more fluffy and separated. Today I saw a chef on Saturday Kitchen toast the couscous first in a pan with oil and butter to give it a nutty flavour, so I might try that next time.



I was worried Steve wouldn’t like this meal as I thought he wouldn’t like the amount of olive oil I’d used in the couscous and on the fish. But he loved it! He said it was absolutely perfect and it made him feel like he was eating dinner on holiday in a sunny country like Greece. So I was really pleased and it made all the effort of removing the bones worth it!


  • Serves: 2



  • 2 whole mackerel, filleted or 4 mackerel fillets
  • olive oil
  • 90g couscous
  • hot water
  • ½ spring onion, finely sliced
  • ½ carrot, diced
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • some cucumber, diced
  • Tablespoon Salad Cream
  • teaspoon Chilli Ketchup (we like the Heinz fiery hot one, but the mild one is good too)
  • salt and pepper



  1. Slash the skin on the mackerel 4-5 times to stop it from curling. Drizzle with olive oil on both sides, then season with salt and pepper. Place under a hot grill for 5 minutes with the skin side up. Turn off the grill and leave the fish under the grill to rest for 2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile make the couscous: place the dry couscous in a large bowl and drizzle with about a Tablespoon of olive oil to coat all the grains, mixing well. Add just enough hot water to cover all the grains, then add the spring onions and quickly cover the bowl (with a large plate is fine). Leave the couscous to absorb the water and soften for about 5 minutes.
  3. When the couscous is soft, fluff up the grains with a spoon and then mix in the chopped vegetables, the Salad Cream and the chilli ketchup (don’t add too much of the sauces otherwise the couscous will be soggy, add just enough for flavour). Season with salt and pepper then serve immediately with the fish.


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