Roasted Mackerel with North African Spices

Roasted Mackerel with North African Spices

Oily fish just love big bold flavours and this mix of fresh spices and herbs are typical of the flavours of Morocco.  This particular mix is called chermoula and forms the base of many dishes. Its worth making up a quantity in the summer and storing it in a kilner or jam jar as its so versatile, rub it onto a nice slice of fresh swordfish before grilling over a fire – its fantastic.

Serves 2


3 tbsp ground cumin or whole cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander or whole coriander seeds

6 large cloves of garlic
1 large bunch of fresh coriander
1 large bunch of parsley
Small handful of chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp paprika
a good pinch of cayenne
300 ml / ½ pt olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
4 mackerel, scaled and gutted weighing about 300g / 11 oz each


For maximum flavour use whole cumin and coriander seeds and roast them yourself in a dry pan to get the natural aromas and oils really going then grind to a fine paste in pestle and mortar or in a spice grinder.


Put the garlic, fresh coriander, parsley and mint in a food processor and blend until smooth, add a little olive oil if necessary to loosen it. Scrape out into a bowl and add the paprika, cayenne, ground coriander and cumin then add the rest of the olive oil until you have a paste, add lemon juice and salt, the flavour of cumin should dominate and the sourness of the lemon should come through, I like this mix quite salty but add salt to your own taste.


Make 2 or three slashes down the side of the mackerel and rub the spice mixture in well making sure it gets right inside the slashes.  Leave for an hour or so to marinate and pre heat your oven to 220c.  Roast the fish for 8-10 minutes.


The mackerel can be dressed with lime juice before serving. Serve with a good squeeze of lemon and a green salad with plenty of sliced red onion in it.