Do you know how the term ‘Holy Mackerel’ came about? I just found this out through our beloved Wiktionary.

“Recorded from 1803 with uncertain origin, but possibly a euphemism for Holy Mary, with Mackerel being a nickname for Catholics because they ate the fish on Fridays. Another suggested explanation is the practice of selling mackerel on Sundays in the seventeenth century (because its quality deteriorates rapidly), so it was known as a holy fish.”

Just a titbit of information to start this post off. Holy fish, I’m on a roll! (All puns intended)

I’ve recently fallen in love with my local waitrose’s fish deli. Fresh fish is not readily available in central London’s supermarkets, but here at Waitrose there’s quite a decent selection.And that was where I first locked shiny eyes with a whole mackerel. Slim, beautiful, glossy body with a slightly grumpy face. I love that there are no (or hardly any) scales and it’s easy to clean and cook.

I’m not very well versed in the language of fish and I hardly cook whole fish. Namely because I do not get them easily here, and my beloved other half balks at the thought of fish bones and ‘fishy-smelling’ fish. I think I snagged myself an Atlantic mackerel this time and I took the opportunity while the hubs was out of town for business to grill it up for my dinner for one. Holy mackerel – it was delicious!!

Mackerel is definitely not a delicate fish and is what the hubs would consider a ‘fishy-smelling’ fish. To me, it was heavenly. I simply grilled it stuffed with orange slices and parsley, drizzled with orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The sugars from the orange juice caramelised the fish beautifully and gave it a citrus-kick. As I tucked into the meal, I was brought back to my vacation in Portugal where i could easily eat grilled sardines with rice every day. Oh my. Those were wonderful times. And then the hubby got home and said ‘Wow, the house needs some airing.’ Oops – while I enjoyed my grilled fish, I had forgotten to open the window to air the place out and we had ‘eau de mackerel’ wafting all around.

Fishy fishy…yummy, yummy!

Grilled mackerel with orange and parsley

1 x fresh whole mackerel gutted and cleaned
1 small handful of flat leaf parsley (stalks included)
2 orange slices
Juice of 1/4 of an orange
sea salt & black pepper
olive oil

Get oven grill going on high. Score the fish on both sides. Place fish on baking tray lined with parchment. Stuff the cavity of the fish with parsley and orange slices. Squeeze orange juice over both sides of the fish,  drizzle with oil and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grill the fish for about 10 minutes on each side. Check that it is cooked through. The flesh should be white (you should see it clearly from the scored slits).

Serve with a drizzle of lemon juice (optional) and a side of plain or egg fried rice.

Oh, and remember to keep a window open!


Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. I am not a big fun of mackerel, but your dish looks so delicious.

  2. Great post. I love mackerel and don’t get a chance to cook it often. This makes me want to seek some out (hard in my neck of the woods) and grill some up!


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About droolfactor

It's all about my gastronomical journeys, and sometimes an inedible thought or two. One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story This is my personal journey where I devote my attention to eating, cooking, experimenting and taking chances. Anything I come across with a droolfactor worth sharing, it's here. I hope you'll enjoy this journey with me.


Recipes, Seafood


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