Asian-Inspired Grilled Mackerel

Mackerel is an oily fish that’s also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the kind of fats we want in our diet. As well as being beneficial health wise, mackerel is also a very affordable fish and I managed to get mine on sale in Sainsburys for next to nothing.

I have never cooked mackerel before and I was a bit nervous about doing so. But after a bit of research and a flick through the BBC Goodfood recipes I came across an Asian-inspired mackerel dish that I decided to give a little tweak and make it my own. I have had a couple of mackerel fillets in the freezer for a while, so I am glad I have found a recipe that inspired me to use them up.

I apologise for the lack of pictures on this one, I changed my mine half way through cooking so some of the first pics became redundant!

The ingredients I used were:

  • 1 Mackerel fillet
  • White Cabbage
  • ½ Leek
  • ½ Green chilli
  • Mustard seeds

For the marinade:

  • 1tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1tbsp Lime juice
  • Fresh ginger (A small piece)
  • 1 Clove garlic
  • 1tbsp Honey

After my mackerel fillet had been defrosting all day it was ready to be marinated in the Asian sauce. In a small bowl I combined all of the marinade ingredients. I crushed and finely chopped the clove of garlic, and thinly sliced the ginger. My honey had set so as I added it to the soy sauce I used the back of my spoon to break it up, allowing it to dissolve. The sauce should be sticky, sweet and a little sour.

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Ready for marinating!

After pouring the marinade over the fish* I covered the Tupperware with cling film and left this to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Marinades help keep the flesh of both fish and meat moist and prevent them drying out, as well as coating the outside with the mix of flavours used, creating a deeper flavour.

  *Keep back the bowl you make the marinade in to use a bit later.

Whilst my fish was chilling in the fridge I began on the second component of the meal, my stir-fried veggies.

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My Mum makes an amazing white cabbage and leek stir fry which I pinched to use in this dish. I began thinly slicing the white cabbage, keeping the pieces long, as well as chopping up ½ leek. To add a little heat, I also finely chopped ½ fresh green chilli.

After the fish had been in the fridge for 20 minutes, I began cooking the veg. I heated oil in a wok and added a sprinkle of mustard seeds. One thing about mustard seeds is that when they heat up they begin to pop and can end up flying everywhere- I know this from experience. To prevent this from happening, I used a plate and covered the pan for the first couple of minutes. After most of the popping had subsided I added all of the veggies.

If I hadn’t marinated the fish I would’ve added some soy sauce or sesame oil to the wok, however, I knew there would be enough flavour from the fish itself.

Stirring regularly the vegetables began to soften, shrink down and become golden. Once they had finished cooking I set them aside in the marinade bowl (mentioned earlier) so the cabbage and leeks could absorb any sauce or spices left over.

After the fish was done marinating, I carefully placed the fillet skin side up on a baking tray covered in tin foil. Under a high heat I grilled the fish for around 4 minutes, until the skin began to crisp and bubble a little. After the 4 minutes were up I removed the fish and turned it over, so it was skin side down on the foil. Onto the fish I poured the remaining sauce left over from the tupperware.

I returned the mackerel back under the grill and, once again, cooked for a remaining 3-4 minutes. I feel like I must put a little warning in here that mackerel is very stinky to cook, but please don’t let this put you off. I did give my housemates a warning and made sure I had all of the windows open. I know that really fishy-fish isn’t always popular, but the end product tastes SO good, it’s worth it.

I tipped the veg back into the wok on the hob just to heat back through and then it was ready to plate up! The veggies were sticky and crunchy with the mustard seeds adding a little extra bite. The fish was really tender, and not at all dry- which can be a common issue with mackerel. I topped the dish off with a few slices of spring onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

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Overall, I am really happy with how this Asian-inspired dish came out, I think it might be one of my best dinners yet!


Even without finding them in the reduced section, you can purchase a couple of mackerel fillets for £2 or so from most supermarkets, and along with the low cost of white cabbage and leeks, this recipe really won’t break the bank! For one portion this ends up costing below £1.70- with the most expensive bits being the soy sauce and honey, and even these don’t add up to a lot!

If you fancy trying the original recipe here it is below: it’s not as good as mine!)

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