Harissa Mackerel with Beet salsa

This weekend saw the hottest day of the year so far. Idle village was Ibiza, Saltaire was San Tropez. Almost…

After an afternoon digging our new ‘allotment’ in my brother in law’s back garden and planting early potatoes, I was disappointed by the sharp dip in temperature that greeted me upon returning home. Despite this, I was determined to press on with our first ‘real’ bbq of the year.DSC_0957

I cook outdoors all year round. We use the ceramic Kamado Joe in the yard for wood fired game in autumn and hot smoked fish over Christmas. However, this winter cooking never feels quite the same as actually sitting outside in early evening sunshine, tending to the grill to make a platter of charcoal-licked treats. So, despite a shying sun, tonight’s Sunday supper still felt seasonally special.

We began with an allium, goats curd and almond salad. The curd was bought from Wharfedale Fine Cheeses at Saltaire’s monthly farmer’s market. This curd, like good burrata and fresh ricotta, is so difficult to get ahold of so worth snapping up when spotted.

For a fish dish, I made harissa mackerel kebabs with a beetroot and lemon thyme salsa. The recipe for this is below.


Finally, some brilliant bavette (feather steak) from Sutcliffe’s of Saltaire rounded off the meal. This fantastic cut is cheap yet packs deep flavour. It either needs slow braising or searing no further than medium rare.

Marinated in dried mixed herbs from my Mum’s garden and new season wet garlic from The Orange Grove, we enjoyed it with some new potatoes dressed with zingy basil mayo.


Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 small, fresh mackerel (filleted)
  • 2 tennis ball sized beetroot, peeled
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil


1. dice the beetroot then combine in a bowl with the vinegar, lemon thyme, lemon juice, pepper and half your oil and salt. Stir to combine then leave to steep for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Make a paste with the harissa, remaining oil and salt before brushing all over the mackerel. Skewer the mackerel as if sewing with needle and thread (see picture) and leave in the fridge until ready to cook.

3. Light your bbq at least 1 hour before you’re ready to cook. When the coals have turned white, grill the kebabs skin side down until the flesh turns 2/3 opaque. Flip the skewers and finish cooking for 1 minute on the flesh side.

Serve with the salsa and enjoy.

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