Mackerel in Tomato Sauce

Simplicity itself. Especially if you make industrial quantities of Tomato Sauce or Roasted Tomato Sauce for the freezer.

Tweak it – to be light and refreshing on a summer’s evening. Or gut-bustingly soul-healing for a cold and raw autumn meal.

For two people


  • A good sized mackerel, gutted and cleaned, head/tail/fins removed
  • A portion of tomato sauce from the freezer [or half this recipe, made fresh]
  • A generous bunch of flat leaf parsley. Or coriander leaves.


  • Cut the fish into slices about 4cm thick; fry for a few minutes on either end in olive oil.
  • Add defrosted tomato sauce, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle on chopped parsley, and serve.

And that’s it ……. almost.

If I’m eating it with rice, I use only a small quantity of olive oil to fry the fish. I’ll keep the tomato sauce liquid and “light”; maybe add a chopped green pepper. The tomatoes counteract the oiliness of the fish. Simple, refreshing, and yet satisfying.

But sometimes a soul craves … something deeper, almost primitive.

Fry the fish with a rather more generous glug of olive oil; add tomato sauce and simmer as above. But this time, cook off a lot of the liquid to get a thick, deep, unctuously glistening, tomato-y celebration of the natural oiliness of the fish. Instead of rice, cut potatoes into 1.5 cm slices and boil in salted water until tender. A mouthful of mackerel, with this sauce mashed into potato? Soul food.


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