Grilled mackerel with pickled gooseberry ketchup

For your next dinner party try this classic combination of rich, oily mackerel with sour gooseberries. You can also use white grapes in place of the berries

  • Prep:40 mins
    Cook:30 mins
    plus cooling and at least 2 hrs pickling
  • Serves 4
  • More effort

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 543
  • fat 38g
  • saturates 9g
  • carbs 15g
  • sugars 14g
  • fibre 2g
  • protein 33g
  • salt 2g


  • 2 fresh mackerel, filleted and pin boned, each fillet cut across the grain into three pieces
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp dill, leaves picked, to serve
  • 150ml white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150g gooseberries, washed
  • ½ cucumber, cut into ribbons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch fennel seeds
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 100g thick, live natural yogurt


Choose the best ingredients

If you can’t find fresh gooseberries, white grapes work well as an alternative. It’s really important to use the freshest mackerel possible, so look out for fish with beautiful shiny skin and clear, sparkly eyes.


  1. First, pickle the gooseberries. Put the vinegar, sugar, sea salt, juniper berries, mustard seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf and 150ml water in a small pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 mins, then infuse for 10 mins. Put the gooseberries and cucumber ribbons in a dry, sterilised jar, add the bay leaf from the pan and pour over the pickling mixture and aromatics. Seal with a lid and allow to pickle for at least two hrs or preferably overnight.

  2. Lay the mackerel pieces on a plate, skin-side down, and sprinkle the flesh with the sea salt. Allow to come to room temperature while you finish making the ketchup. Heat the olive oil and fennel seeds, add the onion, apple, garlic and chilli, season and cook for 8-10 mins, stirring, until the onion is soft and aromatic.

  3. Drain the gooseberries and cucumber, reserving the pickling liquor. Set aside the cucumber and a handful of the gooseberries. Slice the rest of the gooseberries and add to the onion and apple mix, along with the brown sugar and 1 tbsp of the pickling juice. Stir until the gooseberries have broken down and the liquid has evaporated, about 10 mins. Taste for salt, and add a little more to balance the flavours if necessary. Blend using a stick blender or food processor to a smooth consistency, then leave to cool. Once cool, mix the ketchup through the yogurt.

  4. Heat grill to its highest heat. Submerge the mackerel pieces in the reserved pickling liquor, then put on a baking sheet or grill pan, skin-side up. Grill the mackerel for 2-4 mins until the fish is just cooked through – it should be just opaque rather than dry and flaking.

  5. Divide the ketchup between two plates and top with the reserved pickled cucumber and gooseberries. Put the mackerel pieces on top and garnish with dill.

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