So far, summer in the UK has been a series of roasting peaks and drizzly troughs, probably reflecting our oh-so-stable government. Highs of 36C were recorded in some areas, and it was a sizzling 29C when we arrived at a friend's door in the titular Balham, London, who was generous enough to put us up for a night. Here's to hoping that that heady combination of cold beer and hot fresh mackerel was not the swan song of this summer's heatwave.

We improvised this recipe on the barbecue originally, but this can be just as easily done in a normal oven. An open flame serves to crisp the fish a lot better, whereas an oven results in more tender meat, so it's also down to personal preference as well as weather.

This recipe, like a lot of my others, is completely open to personalisation. It's a dish for you to make yourself and your own, and any additions or tweaks are welcomed. 

Balham Mackeral and Roast Summer Veg

  • Prep Time:25 mins
  • Cook Time:45 mins
  • Total Time:1 hr 10 mins
  • Servings:2
  • Medium


  • 2-3 whole mackerels preferably gutted
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tspn chopped fresh parsley + more to garnish
  • 4 tspn chopped fresh chive + more to garnish
  • rough sea salt
  • 1/2 aubergine
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 3 tspn basil
  • 3 tspn oregano
  • 3 tspn rosemary
  • olive oil
  • mixed leaf salad to garnish
salad, pepper, fish
Matt Volpe
  • Step 1

    Firstly, slice your lemon into 1cm thick chunks and roughly dice your parsley & chives.

    Matt Volpe
  • Step 2

    Stuff each mackerel with the lemon chunks, parsley, chives, and a heavy sprinkling of sea salt.

    lemon, lime
    Matt Volpe
  • Step 3

    Tightly wrap the mackerel individually in foil and set aside in a large tray. Sealing your fish in neat parcels keeps the oils that are rich in omega-3 and protein from burning off, making this just that bit healthier than a classic fish-finger sandwich.

    Matt Volpe
  • Step 4

    Chop up all your vegetables, apart from the garlic, into thumb(ish) sized pieces and add them to a large bowl. Whole garlic cloves turn gorgeously sweet when roasted, with a flavour similar to parsnips, and small slices of garlic would burn to a crisp in a few minutes.

    vegetable, pasta
    Matt Volpe
  • Step 5

    Drizzle around 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over your vegetables, then get your hands dirty and churn it all together manually. Sprinkle in your basil, oregano, and rosemary, then continue to mix so that everything has an even coating.

    pepper, garlic, vegetable, onion, zucchini, squash
    Matt Volpe
  • Step 6

    Tip your veg into a large pan and spread them all out evenly, then sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Roast these in an oven at around 200C/390F for 45-50 minutes. Check them periodically; they can burn quickly. If they begin to stick to the base of the pan, then drizzle a tad more oil and shuffle them around with a spatula.

    vegetable, pepper
    Matt Volpe
  • Step 7

    After about 20 minutes, add the fish to the same oven. This time sitting on the side allows the lemon juice to soak into the mackerel and the salt to dissolve. The fish should take about 25-30 minutes. Try not to open the parcels before this time unless absolutely necessary, as you don't want to lose any of the oils while unwrapping. The flesh will flake easily with a fork when it's fully cooked.

  • Step 8

    Finally, plate up with a good serving of vegetables, some fresh salad, and a sprinkling of parsley and chives.

    salad, spinach
    Matt Volpe