“A burnt tomato has never tasted so good,” says Aussie chef Josh Niland. “This dressing is a delicious accompaniment for richer flavoured fish like mackerel, tuna or herring, but make sure to only half-cook the mackerel on the grill and allow the warmth of the tomatoes and the hot toast to finish the cooking.”

BBQ Blue mackerel and burnt tomato on toast from THE WHOLE FISH COOKBOOK: New ways to cook, eat and drink by Josh Niland (Hardie Grant/Rob Palmer/PA)
(Hardie Grant/Rob Palmer/PA)
BBQ Blue mackerel and burnt tomato on toast from THE WHOLE FISH COOKBOOK: New ways to cook, eat and drink by Josh Niland (Hardie Grant/Rob Palmer/PA)
Print Recipe
Nutrition Facts
BBQ blue mackerel and burnt tomato on toast
Amount Per Serving
Calories 871 Calories from Fat 675
% Daily Value*
Fat 75g115%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Cholesterol 35mg12%
Sodium 1760mg77%
Potassium 863mg25%
Carbohydrates 139g46%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 44g88%
Vitamin A 439IU9%
Vitamin C 22mg27%
Calcium 144mg14%
Iron 11mg61%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

BBQ blue mackerel and burnt tomato on toast

A seriously sophisticated lunch
Cook Time10 minutes
Resting Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Australian
Servings: 4
Calories: 871kcal
Author: Josh Niland


  • Mason jar
  • Circulator bath
  • Heavy, cast-iron pan
  • Chopping board
  • Sharp knife
  • Charcoal grill


  • 1 x 300 g blue mackerel (alternatively mullet, herring, sardines)
  • 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 slices good-quality sourdough bread

For the tomato dressing

  • 300 g cherry tomatoes halved
  • 75 g capers
  • 125 g French shallots finely sliced into rings
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 100 ml chardonnay vinegar or white-wine vinegar with a pinch of sugar
  • 50 ml fish garum (see below)
  • 200 ml extra virgin olive oil


  • To produce the garum, start by adding 50% of water to the total amount of heads, bones and scraps you have from small fish, such as sardine, mackerel, anchovies or trevally, then to this total quantity add 20% of fine salt. Mix together, transfer to a mason jar, seal and place in a circulator bath set to 40°C (104°F). Leave for seven days, stirring once daily.
    It is possible to produce a garum without a circulator bath but I would suggest investing in one if you intend to try to produce this sauce as fish waste can be temperamental. If you don’t have one, then use a sterilised mason jar and store in a dark place at room temperature, stirring every day. Make sure that the gall bladder is removed as it will make the finished sauce extremely bitter. This recipe is versatile and can be adapted to produce scallop, prawn (shrimp) or cuttlefish garums.
  • For the dressing, burn the tomato halves, cut side down, in batches if necessary, in a heavy, cast-iron pan over a high heat for six minutes, or until softened. Once all the tomatoes are burnt, add the remaining ingredients and leave for 30 minutes before serving. Keep warm.
  • Place the mackerel in the middle of a chopping board with the tail facing you and the belly cavity exposed and open. Using a sharp knife, cut down one side of the central spine and remove the fillet as you would if you were going through the top side of the fish, but when you reach the point where the fillet is off but still attached to the head, turn the fish so the head is now facing you and, using the top third of the knife, split the head in half. This will result in a fillet that still has the tail and the head intact. Remove the pin bones. Repeat on the other side, but this time lay the fish flat to the work surface and cut the fillet through the top of the fish ensuring that the head and tail are still attached to the fillet. (If this is too challenging, just remove the fillets as you would normally or get your fishmonger to do this.)
  • For the charcoal grill, make sure the grill is hot and the charcoal has cooked down to hot embers.
  • Brush the skin of the mackerel with a little olive oil and season with sea salt. Grill on the skin for two to three minutes until coloured and the flesh is warm to the touch, then remove and brush the fish skin with a little more olive oil and season with a little more salt and a touch of pepper.
  • Brush the bread with olive oil and grill for one minute on each side until smoky and well coloured. Arrange the toast on a plate, spoon the tomato dressing over the toast, then place the mackerel on top. Serve whole or cut to share with friends.


Calories: 871kcal | Carbohydrates: 139g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 75g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 1760mg | Potassium: 863mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 439IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 144mg | Iron: 11mg


The Whole Fish Cookbook: New ways to cook, eat and drink by Josh Niland, published by Hardie Grant. Photography Rob Palmer.

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