Pan-Fried Mackerel with Fresh Tomatoes & Pomegranate

From Ainsley’s National Trust Cook Off, ITV

The freshness of tomatoes works so well with mackerel, and this is a fresh summery dish that’s quick and easy for a light lunch or starter. Lime juice really brings out the sweetness and freshness of tomatoes; it has a spicy zesty quality that works brilliantly with oily fish and with the addition of the warm herby notes of cumin it’s a perfect pairing. Pomegranate and tomato is also a wonderful combination – fruity, sweet and tangy.


First make the salad dressing: heat a small dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast for a minute until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder. Tip into a bowl and add the lime juice, pul biber and olive oil. Whisk together and season to taste with a good pinch of flaky salt (add a pinch of sugar or a little honey if you prefer a sweeter dressing).

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Brush a large non-stick frying pan with the olive oil and place over a medium heat. Fry the fish, skin side down, for 3 minutes. Gently turn each fillet over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets – the fish is cooked when firm to the touch.

Arrange the tomato slices, cherry tomato halves and onion slices on serving plates. Drizzle over the dressing and scatter with pomegranate seeds and basil (and mint) leaves. Top with a Mackerel fillet and season with a little flaky sea salt.



  • 4 mackerel fillets, skin lightly scored
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 large ripe vine or heritage tomatoes, sliced into ¼ inch circles
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • seeds from half a pomegranate
  • handful of basil (and or mint) leaves
  • flaky sea salt
  • For the Dressing
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of pul biber
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil