• Here's another campaign aiming to change what's on our plates. (Luke Burgess)Source: Luke Burgess

Mackerel would have to be one of the most underrated fish in Australia. Ironically, most of the catch is ground into food for farmed fish, which end up with nowhere near the incredible flavour and texture of mackerel. Grilled slowly over coals, it offers a wonderful eating experience: the natural oils in the fish mean it stays juicy and succulent, and the flesh absorbs the smokiness from the grill.


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  • 200 g (1 cup) pearl barley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Japanese eggplants (aubergines), halved lengthways
  • 3 roma (plum) tomatoes, halved lengthways olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 whole mackerel (about 700 g in total)
  • handful (large) of flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • handful of mint leaves

Garlic yoghurt

  • 140 g (½ cup) plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil over high heat. Add barley, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 8–10 minutes. Drain barley and spread over a tray or large plate to cool.

For garlic yoghurt, combine yoghurt, tahini and garlic in a bowl, then whisk in olive oil in a thin, steady stream. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat a chargrill pan or barbecue grill plate over high heat. Brush eggplant and tomato with olive oil and season with salt. Place vegetables cut-side down on grill and cook for 3–4 minutes, then turn and cook for another 3–4 minutes or until tender. Remove and set aside on a plate covered with foil.

Brush fish with olive oil and season with salt. Make sure grill is very hot – this will prevent fish from sticking – then place fish carefully on grill and leave untouched for 4–5 minutes. Turn and cook for another 4–5 minutes or until fish is just cooked through but remains juicy.

To serve, scatter barley over a plate, season with salt and pepper, then arrange grilled eggplant and tomato on top. Lay fish on plate, drizzle with garlic yoghurt and scatter with herbs.


Recipe and image from The Agrarian Kitchen, Rodney Dunn, with photography by Luke Burgess (Lantern, $59.99 hbk).