Grilled Mackerel & Barbecued Spanish Onions with Sweet & Sour Sauce

A few years ago my husband and I went on a deep sea fishing trip. We caught so many Spanish Mackerels we didn’t know what to do with them! We invited a lot of friends over for a seafood BBQ and prepared the Mackerel with this recipe. I have been asked so many times for the recipe so here it is…

4 grey (spanish) mackerel cutlets or 4 whole and gutted blue mackerel.
1/2 a cup of sugar
750ml of red wine vinegar
4 spanish onions
olive oil
smoked paprika
fennel seeds
salt and pepper
lemons (garnish)


For the Sauce
Make the sauce first by putting 1/2 a cup of sugar in a high-sided pot with 2 tbsp of water. Bring to the boil and keep it bubbling away until the sugar has caramelised to a light mahogany colour. Carefully pour in 750ml of red wine vinegar and keep it simmering until it reduces by half. Turn it off, transfer to a bowl and cool – it should be syrupy.

Cut 4 unpeeled spanish onions in half, brush with olive oil, sprinkle generously with smoked paprika and crushed fennel seeds, season with plenty of salt and pepper and grill on the barbecue. Brush the fish with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place it on the barbecue. Brush some of the sweet-and-sour sauce on the top side of the fish before turning, then do the same to the other side.
When the onions have softened, remove their outer skins, place on a serving plate and sprinkle with a little sweet-and-sour sauce.

To Serve
Serve the fish with the onions and wedges of lemon.

Use either 4 grey (spanish) mackerel cutlets, about 2cm thick, or 4 whole and gutted blue mackerel. If these are unavailable, any oily fish such as large sardines, kingfish cutlets or whole small trevally are perfect for barbecuing.

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