Mackerel with lemon and black pepper nam jim recipe

Mackerel with lemon and black pepper nam jim
Mackerel with lemon and black pepper nam jim: a quick assembly of a handful of fresh and invigorating ingredients - Haarala Hamilton

Other than gently toasting some rice and grilling or frying the mackerel for a few minutes, this is a quick assembly of a handful of fresh and invigorating ingredients. It’s one of my go-to meals and is a real crowd-pleaser. The quantities can easily be doubled to serve four. Nam jim is a Thai dipping sauce.


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes




  • 100g dried, fine vermicelli rice noodles

  • 2 carrots

  • 1 small courgette

  • 20g Thai basil

  • 15g mint

  • 15g coriander

  • 1 tbsp jasmine or Thai glutinous rice

  • 2 whole mackerel, gutted and cleaned, each weighing 200-250g

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

For the nam jim

  • generous ½ tsp black peppercorns

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar

  • 1 bird’s-eye chilli, thinly sliced


  1. Put the noodles in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cover with just-boiled water for six minutes, until al dente. Drain through a sieve, cool under a cold running tap, drain again and return to the bowl. Set to one side.

  2. Meanwhile, make the nam jim by pounding the peppercorns using a pestle and mortar, so they are somewhere between cracked and coarsely ground. Combine with the rest of the nam jim ingredients, whisking with a fork until the sugar is dissolved.

  3. Use a julienne peeler to cut the carrots and courgette into fine strips. (If you don’t have one of those, use a swivel-style vegetable peeler to cut them into ribbons instead.) Pick the leaves from the herbs, discarding the stems. Combine the carrot, courgette and herbs in a mixing bowl, pour half the nam jim over the top and toss thoroughly. Decant the rest of the sauce into a small dipping bowl.

  4. Toast the rice in a small frying pan over a low-medium heat for about four minutes, until it begins to turn golden and smells fragrant. Use a pestle and mortar to grind to a gritty powder.

  5. Finally, brush the mackerel with a little oil and cook in a smoking-hot griddle pan for 3-4 minutes per side, until the skin is charred and bubbling, and the flesh is firm but juicy and pulls away from the bone. Alternatively, cook over hot coals, or under a blazing grill.

  6. Divide the noodles and salad between two plates or shallow bowls, add the mackerel, and dust the salad and fish liberally with the rice powder. Keep the remaining nam jim on the side for dipping, or to pour over the noodles and fish to taste.