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Thomasina Miers' recipe for harissa-grilled mackerel with orange and black olive relish

The Guardian logo The Guardian 23/05/2020 Thomasina Miers

As I get older, I find that my once insatiable appetite sometimes lets me down. I hate not being hungry; food never tastes as good when your appetite falters (so I do as much jumping up and down and cycling as my life permits). The things I have an appetite for have changed, too: these days, I prefer lighter dishes and yearn for colourful, vibrant plates of food. Here is a deliciously zippy little dish that feels just right.

Moroccan harissa-grilled mackerel with orange and black olive relish

You can use pretty much any fish fillets here – the richness of sardines, say, works beautifully with the relish. Always make sure your mackerel is line-caught.

Prep 5 min

Cook 15 min

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

6-8

mackerel, cleaned and filleted (or butterflied)

2 tsp rose harissa

1 cup couscous

(ie, about 150g)

For the relish

½ red onion, finely chopped

1 ½ oranges

1 heaped tsp coriander seeds

, crushed

½ clove garlic, crushed with a little salt

½ bunch coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper

You can use pretty much any fish fillets here – the richness of sardines, say, works beautifully with the relish. Always make sure your mackerel is line-caught.

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6. Make the relish first. Pop the onion in a bowl and squeeze over the juice of half an orange. Add the zest of the whole orange, then leave to macerate.

Using a sharp knife, remove the pith from the zested orange – it helps if you cut off each end, so it sits flat. Prise away the segments and chop into pea-sized pieces. Add to the onion bowl and squeeze in any juice from the skins and core. Add the remaining relish ingredients, season to taste and put to one side.

Line an oven tray with baking paper and grease with a teaspoon or two of oil. Rub the flesh side of the mackerel with the harissa, then lay them skin-side up on the tray. Season the skin, then roast for eight to 10 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the fish is cooked through.

While the fish is in the oven, boil the kettle. Pour the couscous into a bowl, add the remaining olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt. Fill the now empty cup with boiling water, pour this over the couscous, stir once, then cover tightly for five minutes. Remove the lid and check the couscous, adding a little more boiling water, if needed. Once it is cooked, use a fork to fluff up the grains. Dish this out on to plates, pop two fillets (or one butterflied fish) on each plate and spoon over the relish.

And for the rest of the week …

The relish makes a wonderful dressing for a simple salad of baby gem, cucumber, feta and black olives. I also love it with potato salad, particularly when paired with a lamb chop.

  • The Guardian aims to publish recipes for sustainable fish. For ratings in your region, check: UK; Australia; US.

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