Grilled blue mackerel (or sardines) with red and green chermoula and lime-cured sweet peppers

Chermoulas and lime-cured peppers give a kick to this grilled oily fish.
Chermoulas and lime-cured peppers give a kick to this grilled oily fish. Photo: William Meppem

Blue mackerel is one of the most under-rated fish in Australia. I think people assume it will be stronger-tasting than it actually is because it has dark flesh and is quite fatty. Yet the flavour is mild and the texture delicate. It can stand up to the bold flavours of the chermoulas while still retaining its essence. The sweet and sour peppers are a nice cooking accent on the spiced fish. They are best when allowed to marinate for a few hours.


4 whole blue mackerel, cleaned and butterflied (whole uncleaned weight for fish about 450g)

3 tbsp green chermoula (recipe here)

3 tbsp red chermoula (recipe here)

sea salt and black pepper to season

lime wedges to serve

Lime-cured peppers

15 small sweet red or yellow peppers 

1 tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

juice of 4 limes


To make the lime-cured peppers slice your sweet peppers thinly but not paper thin (you want them to have some crunch). Sprinkle them with sugar and salt and toss together. Allow to sit for about one hour, then squeeze lime juice over the peppers and toss together again. Allow to sit until ready to serve.

Season your fish with salt and pepper and then drizzle some of the green chermoula on the fish and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours.

Prepare your outdoor grill or a grill pan on the stove to a high heat. Take your fish out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you want to cook it.

Place the fish skin side down on the grill and rest a saute pan or a dish that isn't too heavy on top of the fish to keep it from curling up. Grill for about three to four minutes with the skin side down then carefully and gently flip the fish over to quickly finish on the flesh side. It shouldn't take more than one or two minutes.

Place on your serving dish and either brush some of the red chermoula over the top or serve on the side with some lime wedges. Sprinkle peppers on top.

For a Moroccan-inspired feast, serve with cous cous and my eggplant, tomato and bean salad.

Tip: Freshness is essential for oily fish because they can spoil quickly. Ask your fishmonger to butterfly these for you or try it yourself. If blue mackerel is not available, substitute sardines. They are best grilled over an outdoor wood or charcoal grill but excellent on a grill pan on your stove as well.