José Pizarro’s recipe for chilli-spiked escalivada with fried mackerel | Spanish food and drink

Mackerel is one of my favourite oily fish, but it does need something to cut through all that richness. Escalivada is just the ticket. Ideally, char the peppers and aubergine on a barbecue, to get that authentic smoky flavour, but if need be an oven will do the job nicely, too. This dish captures the essence of a hot summer’s day, with the roast vegetables in the escalivada taking centre stage. This punchy warm salad is also great with roast chicken, pork chops or simply on its own with lots of crusty bread.

Chilli-spiked escalivada with fried mackerel

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 15 min
Serves 4

If you like more of a kick, add a pinch of chilli flakes and half a teaspoon of hot smoked pimentón to the escalivada instead of the red chilli.

1 large aubergine
2-3 peppers
– a mix of red and yellow ones, ideally
8 large vine tomatoes
1 red onion
, peeled and cut into fat wedges
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 red chilli, halved lengthways
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
, plus a little extra for the fish
4 sprigs oregano
, leaves stripped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 mackerel fillets

Heat the oven to 210C (190C fan)/410F/gas 6½. Prick the aubergine all over with a fork and put it in a roasting tin with the peppers, tomatoes, onion wedges, garlic and chilli. Season generously, add the olive oil, toss to coat, then scatter over the fresh herbs.

Roast for an hour, until all the vegetables are charred and very tender. Peel off and discard the skin from the aubergine and peppers, and scrape out the pith and seeds from inside the peppers, saving as many of the cooking juices as possible. Tear the aubergine and pepper flesh into rough strips and return them to the oven tray. Squeeze the garlic out of its papery skins, and add the soft flesh to the tin, too. Pour the sherry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil all over the roast vegetables, then toss to coat.

Put a little oil in a griddle or large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Season the mackerel on both sides, then fry the fillets skin side down for two to three minutes, until crisp. Flip over, fry for just a minute or two more, until just cooked through, then serve with the warm escalivada and some crusty bread to mop up all those lovely juices.

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