Grilled whole mackerel with ginger masala and onion salad

Karen Martini's masala marinated mackerel.
Karen Martini's masala marinated mackerel. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Dairy-free

This masala paste is quite punchy and fragrant, making it ideal for a rich and oily fish. The crunchy onion salad is also a great foil for the spiced fish, especially if perfumed with smoke from grilling over real coals. A griddle pan or gas barbecue will do a fine job, too, just get the surface as hot as possible before cooking. You could substitute sardines, sand mullet or salmon cutlets for this, but remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Ingredients

4 x 400g whole mackerel, skin slashed on an angle

For the masala

2 dried long red chillies, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes

10cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp black peppercorns, lightly ground

6 cloves

1½ tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp salt flakes

For the onion salad

1 white onion, finely sliced in rings

6 coriander sprigs, leaves and fine stems picked

6 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, leaves picked

1½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground

½ tsp salt flakes

juice of 1 lime

2 pinches of cayenne pepper

1 lime, cut into wedges to garnish

Method

1. Blitz all the masala ingredients in a blender with 2 tablespoons of the chilli-soaking water to form a slightly wet paste. Then massage the paste into the fish and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. For the salad, soak the onion rings in iced water for 5 minutes, then drain well. Meanwhile, preheat a barbecue or griddle pan on high.

3. Toss the onion with the herbs, ground coriander, salt and lime juice.

4. Grill the fish for about 6 minutes on each side, then serve with the salad on the side and the cayenne sprinkled over the top, with the lime wedges to garnish.