José Pizarro’s barbecued mackerel with orange and watercress salad recipe

People often say that food cooked on a barbecue tastes better, and I tend to agree – especially when it comes to barbecued mackerel. All those aromatic oils burning against the hot iron, and that beautiful, crispy skin – it’s truly divine. The orange and watercress salad here is a perfect match for the deep flavours of the mackerel. You can use any really good, juicy oranges, as long as they’re sweet, but, when they’re in season, blood oranges are the ideal.

Barbecued mackerel
Emma Lee


1⁄2 red cabbage, very finely shredded
2 oranges
1 lemon
1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200g watercress leaves

4 large fresh mackerel, cleaned
Pared zest of 2 oranges
4 fresh bay leaves
8 oregano sprigs olive oil, for brushing

  1. Light your barbecue with a small amount of coals: you want it to burn hot, but not for very long.
  2. Meanwhile, make the salad. Put the cabbage in a bowl. Segment the oranges and the lemon and add to the bowl with the cumin seeds and extra virgin olive oil. Toss well and leave to macerate for 15 minutes or so.
  3. Take the mackerel and stuff each one with some orange zest, a bay leaf and 2 oregano sprigs. Brush all over with oil and put them into a barbecue fish rack if you have one.
  4. When the barbecue is ready, cook the mackerel over the hot coals for 4-5 minutes on each side until just cooked and lightly charred.
  5. Add the watercress leaves to the salad and toss well to combine, then serve with the mackerel.

NOTE You’ll need to leave at least 15 minutes to marinate the salad, so that the cabbage can take on the flavours.

Now buy the book

the Spanish home kitchen
Our recipes are taken from The Spanish Home Kitchen by José Pizarro, which will be published on 9 June by Hardie Grant, price £27. To order a copy for £22.95 until 19 June, go to or call 020 3176 2937. Free p&p on orders over £20.