Mackerel on the bucket barbeque

by Josh Sutton15th September 2011

The barbeque is the definitive camper’s companion.  I have a couple that I bring along on our many camping trips.  The mainstay is the old trusty 1’600 RPM’, an old washing machine drum that I rescued from a tip. The beauty of this barbeque is that once the cooking is done, you can chuck on a few logs and get the guitars out.  The drum makes for a perfectly safe fire pit, and as mine is mounted on three aluminium tent poles, it’s well off the grass and won’t leave unsightly scorch marks.  Most campsites seem happy to allow my trusty machine.  In fact a number of site owners have quizzed me as to where I got my fire from.  Note to self, sell from the Guyrope Gourmet website shop.

My most recent purchase has proved to be an absolute gem.  A bargain to be had from Sainsbury’s supermarket.  It’s a small bucket, beach barbeque and for some unknown reason, mine was reduced to half price and so makes for a well-spent £7.50!  It came with us on a recent trip to the North Yorkshire coast, and cooked its maiden meal on Sandsend beach.  I always use lump-wood charcoal, never briquettes and I always start it with paper and kindling, never a firelighter.  To be honest, I wasn’t holding out much hope for my £7.50, but boy was I in for a pleasant surprise!

‘All My Sons’ pulled alongside the tiny jetty in Staithes harbour.  Laden with day fishers and a healthy catch, the small boat bobbed on the high tide.  Like seagulls to a trawler, myself and other curious onlookers swarmed to the boat as Sean the skipper began his demonstration on how to ‘fancy gut’ a mackerel.  With more fish than his clients could carry, Sean offered free mackerel to those willing to have a go themselves.  I’m never one to miss an invitation like that and walked away with three fresh fish and a lesson in a new technique.  The thing about gutting the fish without slicing the belly open, is that the cavity is perfect for stuffing with tasty herbs and lemon.

So moved was I by this new revelation in gutting technique, that I scribbled a little drawing of how it is done.  Part of the trick is to have a really sharp knife and make the cut around the body at a 45 degree angle just behind the pectoral fins.  The key part is to make sure that you manage to sever the intestine at the anus. Make a small slit and pull out a little loop of intestine with the pointed end of your knife and cut. Otherwise it just doesn’t work.

As for the stuffing, mackerel speaks for itself, I just used a wedge of lemon and a bunch of flat leaf parsley – it really doesn’t need much else.  Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper, drizzle with olive oil and grill for four or five minutes on each side.  Serve with salad leaves and a glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc, or an Albarino if you managed to get the fish for free!

Contact Details

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Follow Josh on Twitter: @Guyropegourmet


About the Author

Josh Sutton is a freelance writer with a focus on camping cuisine. His adventures are recorded on his website and blog at, and you can follow him on Twitter @Guyropegourmet. Josh may also be found at food & music festivals entertaining the public with cooking demonstrations from his tent In the line of duty he has been chased through the desert by the Syrian Army and run out of a one-horse-town in Louisianna by the local Sheriff. More recently he was filmed by the BBC, cooking lobster & linguini on a camping stove in storm force winds! Josh has written for a number of publications other than The Foodie Bugle including: Fire & Knives, The Big Issue, Great Food Magazine, Camping Magazine, The Yorkshire Post Magazine and Green Parent Magazine among others.


Angela - 15th September 2011 2:06 pm

Love the simplicity of your cooking methods and have forwarded this onto all my friends with VW camper vans!  Since reading your article in Fire and Knives, I have been looking at old discarded washing machines in a new way, I even caught myself eying one up at the goat farm I was recently at…..

Watercolour and ink sketch of how to gut a mackerel by Josh Sutton. All photography and illustration Copyright:

Watercolour and ink sketch of how to gut a mackerel by Josh Sutton. All photography and illustration Copyright:

Mackerel on the barbeque.

Mackerel on the barbeque.

Grilled mackerel with fresh lemon and salad leaves.

Grilled mackerel with fresh lemon and salad leaves.