No time to lose – tomatoes are at their best

Grilled mackerel with tomato water.
Grilled mackerel with tomato water.
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Our tomato plants are flowering and we await the plump fruits, hoping there will be enough sun to ripen them. There is nothing quite like the smell of tomatoes ripened on the vine.

We were late planting the seeds and I know most tomato plants are already bearing fruit.

When the crop is plentiful you should make sauces for the freezer or dry baby plum tomatoes and store them in olive oil for later in the year.

Most people forget tomatoes are seasonal because of their all-year availability, but they are at their best in summer when a good tomato can make a bland salad zing.

Tomato juice can be strained through muslin for a delicate tomato water which I spike with chilli oil.

I also like to warm the tomato water in a saucepan to bring out the flavour.

Don’t overheat it as you’ll lose some of the fragrance.

Tomato water


600g tomatoes

Pinch sea salt

1 red chilli

1 clove garlic

1 small onion

Pinch fennel seeds

8 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Teaspoon paprika

150ml olive oil

1 courgette

Pinch salt

Sliced spring onion

4 fillets mackerel


1. Put tomatoes through a juicer or liquidise them.

2. Mix with sea salt and strain through muslin cloth.

3. The rose liquid is the tomato water. Can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

4. Make chilli oil by sweating the onion and garlic in the olive oil for two minutes.

5. Add all other ingredients. Cook for one minute.

6. Allow to cool and pass through muslin.

7. Cut courgette into ribbons. Sprinkle with salt. Leave for 20 minutes. Rinse in water.

8. Cook mackerel under hot grill. Warm the tomato water.

9. Put courgette ribbons in bowls and sprinkle with spring onion.

10. Pour over the tomato water and put mackerel on top.

11. Drizzle a little chilli oil around the fish and serve.

Lawrence’s restaurant is Fat Olives at Emsworth ( Call 01243 377914