Fish for the People, Spicy Mackerel with Orange and Radish Salad from Fresh and Easy

Need a little hand holding in the kitchen, What to Cook and How to Cook it: Fresh and Easy (Phaidon, Spring 2012), the follow up to What to Cook and How to Cook it by Jane Hornby will fit like a glove.

I previously shared her Light, Simple and Vegetarian, Lemon and Basil Gnudi, today i went for a fish for the people.

Spicy Mackerel with Orange & Radish Salad

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus marinating

Cooking time: 6-10 minutes

Serves 6, easily doubled 

Note: Oily fish like mackerel and sardines are delicious with hot spices. Try them with harissa or curry paste, which cut through the richness of the flesh. Whole fish cook well on the grill (barbecue), but there are a few tricks to getting the best result. See page 13 for more information about cooking fish. 


6 small or 3 large fresh mackerel—ask your fish supplier to clean (gut) them and to remove the heads

1 tbsp harissa paste

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing

3 large or 6 small oranges

11 oz (300 g) radishes

1 red onion

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Mackerel salad


  1. Rinse the fish under cold running water to remove any blood, then dry with paper towels. Slash the flesh 3-4 times on each side for small fish or 5 times for large fish.
  1. Mix the harissa paste, 1 tablespoon of oil and plenty of salt and pepper, then rub this all over the fish. Marinate in the fridge for a few minutes (or up to 3 hours), while you make the salad.*
  2. Cut the top and bottom from each orange, then, using a serrated knife, cut away the skin and pith. Take care to follow the line of the orange flesh, so that you don’t trim too much of it. Cut into thin slices.
  3. Thinly slice the radishes and the red onion. Toss in a serving dish with the oranges, vinegar, and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Before you begin cooking, check that your charcoal is glowing white hot, or your gas grill (barbecue) is preheated to 400ºF (200ºC). Use a heat-resistant brush to oil the grill rack, then cook small fish for 3 minutes or large fish for 5-6 minutes on each side, until charred and cooked through. If your grill has a lid, then you can use it here. Test with a knife—the flesh at the backbone should flake easily. Toss the parsley leaves through the salad, then serve with the fish.** 

*About harissa—This feisty paste of dried red chiles, garlic, and spices is originally from Tunisia, but can be found in specialty markets and some supermarkets. As an alternative, stir 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 crushed garlic clove, and ½ teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander into 1 tablespoon chili paste or sauce.

**Cooking fish on the grill—Inevitably, some fish skin will stick to the grate. Oiling helps, but if you plan to cook a lot of fish it makes sense to invest in a grill basket for fish—a wire cage with handles that sandwiches around the fish and can be turned easily. Oil this too. Alternatively, heat a grill pan (griddle) on the grill. That way the fish flavor won’t be transferred to the grate beneath. 

If it rains—Preheat the broiler (grill) and cook the fish on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, turning carefully once.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from publisher, excerpted from Fresh and Easy by Jane Hornby - Phaidon Press, Spring 2012- Photographs by Stephen Joyce, Illustrations by Emily Robertson)

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