The BBC Good Food logo
Barbecued mackerel with ginger, chilli & lime drizzle

Barbecued mackerel with ginger, chilli & lime drizzle

A star rating of 4.8 out of 5.27 ratingsRate
Magazine subscription – your first 5 issues for only £5!
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
    • Ready in 23 minutes
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

Make mackerel part of your weekly menu with this Asian inspired dish that's perfect for barbecues

  • Easily doubled
  • Easily halved
Nutrition: per serving
low insalt0.49g


  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 small whole mackerel , gutted and cleaned

For the drizzle

  • 1 large red chilli , deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove , finely chopped
  • small knob fresh root ginger , finely chopped
  • 2 tsp honey
  • finely grated zest and juice of 2 lime
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Thai fish sauce


  • STEP 1

    Light the barbecue and allow the flames to die down until the ashes have gone white with heat. Make the drizzle by whisking 2 tbsp olive oil and all the other ingredients together in a small bowl, adjusting the ratio of honey and lime to make a sharp sweetness. Season to taste.

  • STEP 2

    Score each side of the mackerel about 6 times, not quite through to the bone. Brush the fish with the remaining oil and season lightly. Barbecue the mackerel for 5-6 mins on each side until the fish is charred and the eyes have turned white. Spoon the drizzle over the fish and allow to stand for 2-3 mins before serving.


Simple, quick methods of cooking are best for mackerel. Roasting, grilling or barbecuing all work well as the oils self-baste during cooking (pan-frying can cause the skin to stick to the pan). Fruit works well with the oiliness of mackerel and it is traditionally served with a sharp sauce, such as gooseberry or rhubarb. It is also excellent cooked with oriental flavours, particularly ginger, lime, coriander and spices.


Very fresh whole mackerel may still be in a state of rigor mortis and will be rigid and stiff. Once it’s out of rigor mortis the fish should still be firm, with no ‘give’ when you press the flesh. The eyes will look glassy and the gills should be a very deep red. Fillets should look firm with no discolouration. As the fish ages the flesh will soften, the eyes will become cloudy and the gills will tinge brown.


Oil-rich fish should be refrigerated quickly after buying, and is best eaten on the same day. You can freeze mackerel, but it’s better frozen commercially as the techniques used prevent any change to the texture of the fish. Use frozen mackerel within three months and always defrost in the fridge.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, July 2007


Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating

A star rating of 4.8 out of 5.27 ratings

Sponsored content