Healthy, tasty and inexpensive, mackerel is one of my favourite fish. It’s sublime if you can get it really fresh, but it is, of course, widely available smoked, and pairs brilliantly with acidic fruit such as rhubarb (technically it’s a vegetable, but in the eyes of the US legal system, it’s also considered a fruit), which is happily coming into season now. Try this quick compote for a speedy tasty lunch.

(Serves 4) 95p per person
100g fresh rhubarb, sliced finely, 56p
Dash of lime juice, 3p
2 tsp honey, 10p
1 fresh chilli or pinch of chilli flakes, 9p
300g smoked mackerel, £2.39
100g fresh spinach or salad leaves, 50p
4 slices wholemeal toast, 12p

Combine the rhubarb, chilli, lime and honey in a small-lidded saucepan. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and let it simmer for about five minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking to the pan. Add a splash of water if it needs loosening up.

Remove the lid and let it soften gently for another five minutes, until the consistency is right, and keep it hot.

Meanwhile, warm the mackerel fillets through under a hot grill – about five minutes each side.

Serve the mackerel flaked on toast alongside the compote and spinach with a squeeze of lime and honey drizzled over the top.

Tip: For a more substantial meal, wilt the spinach, flake the mackerel and toss through a short, fat pasta. Thin the compote with a little oil to make a sauce, and combine.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, 2 April 2014. Photograph by Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian.


  1. We love smoked mackerel, either homemade or bought, and still relatively cheap. (Until a flash TV chef gets hold of it!) We also grow rhubarb so ours will be ready later this month. Your compote looks really red – I thought it was a dollop of ketchup! Must have been really lovely ripe stalks. One for the book, thanks Jack.

  2. Made smoked mackerel pate last night and them stewed rhubarb with chilli and dolloped with pate on super crispy toast… sounds vile but was yummy albeit a little strange to look at!

  3. Have been working my thru ur book my partner is loving it he even enjoyed the warm chickpea bacon and olive salad not bad to say he doesnt like olives or chickpeas ! Tomorrow its ham pea and mint casserole well done on the book

  4. Sounds delicious but nevertheless I wouldn’t eat mackerel at the moment because of overfishing. At least that is what we are told here in Germany (by Greenpeace for example).

      • I don’t know. Here in Germany nearly all fish is cheap if it is endangered or not but then food in general is cheap in Germany because of the price politics of Aldi, Lidl and other discounters. Germans are not prepared to pay much for food. They prefer to spend their money on cars.

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