Mackerel on The Bucket Barbeque

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!

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Josh Sutton

The ‘chef’ at Guyrope Gourmet is Josh Sutton a forty something ex hod carrier with a penchant for cooking, camping and writing. He holds a degree in Arabic with Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies and an MA in Professional Housing Studies. He’s been pursued through the desert by the Syrian army and chased out of a one horse town in Louisianna by the local Sheriff. When he’s not writing, blogging, twittering, digging the allotment or generally hawking his wares, he fries fish in a five star fish restaurant. In the field Josh uses: Wheels – 1979 VW camper called ‘Nan the Van’, Tent – Wynster Orion 5, Stoves – Campingaz camping chef & Trangia, Food – as local as possible, Knives – Opinel. Josh has written for: Go Camping magazine, The Foodie Bugle, Regional Review and VW Camper & Commercial. Josh Sutton’s website:

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

Mackerel on the barbeque.

Grilled mackerel with fresh lemon and salad leaves.

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