Another variation on my much-loved combination of mackerel and fruit. This time, the mackerel is rubbed with a spice paste to give it a lovely flavoursome skin before grilling. The accompanying salad, with its combination of fruit, mint and coconut, makes a cooling and refreshing contrast to the mixture of cayenne, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cumin and coriander. It also looks rather beautiful, with contrasting yellow, white and green colours.
The spice paste for the mackerel is fairly easy to make: toast cumin and coriander seeds with cloves and a cinnamon stick. Grind with garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and sunflower oil, and rub all over the mackerel skin. You'll end up with a coarse, almost brick-red paste that promises flavour with every mouthful. Few fish would be flavoursome to carry off such an onslaught of spices; with mackerel, they work very well.
The salad, a mixture of coconut, ripe mango, lime and mint, with a hint of chilli and mustard seed, is delicious on its own. However, when combined with the dense, grainy, oily fish and the heat of the spices, it is even better. I love the combination of lime and mango; it works so well with fish like tuna and swordfish, and the coconut adds a creamier note that mellows the fruit and stops it being too astringent.
I'd also like to sing the praises here of those metal rings you can buy in cookshops for making crumpets and the like. I've observed them covetously on Masterchef, as they enable the contestants to plate things up in all sorts of beautifully arranged, towering fashions. Were it not for this excellent piece of equipment, the mango and coconut salad would no doubt have been a sad mess in the middle of the plate. I do warn you, however, that, should you buy some of these, you will end up using them for everything. No longer will you just dollop rice or couscous onto a plate in a carefree fashion - no, it must be carefully packed into the presentation ring and unveiled with a flourish. Ditto salads, salsas, mashed potato...endless possibilities for Masterchef-style fun.
Indian-spiced mackerel with mango, coconut and chilli salad (serves 4):
Put 75g desiccated coconut into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 minutes or so. Then put it into a blender with 1tsp mustard seeds, 2tsp caster sugar, and a pinch of salt.
Layer this coconut paste with 2 diced ripe mangoes, squeezing over some lime juice and sprinkling some red chilli as you go. Add a handful of mint leaves.
For the spice paste, put 2tsp coriander seeds, 2tsp cumin seeds, 3 cloves and a 2cm cinnamonn stick into a hot frying pan and toss for 2 minutes until the seeds begin to pop. Grind with four garlic cloves, 1.5cm fresh ginger (peeled and grated), 2tsp cayenne pepper, 2tbsp sunflower oil, and some salt and pepper.
Slash the skin of 4 whole mackerel, gutted with the head left on (or off if you prefer, I like it left on). Rub the spice paste into the flesh. Heat the grill to high (around 200C) and grill the fish for five minutes on each side. Serve with the salad.
(Adapted from Diana Henry's "Food from Plenty")