Baked Mackerel with Fennel and Lemon

 Baked Mackerel Recipe

This week is truly a week of firsts; so far you’ve witnessed my first fair weather soup and now you are being treated to my first mackerel recipe of the summer. Mackerel is probably the commonest fish found in British seas – they are so simple to catch once midsummer rolls in. I’ll admit that it isn’t yet mackerel season and that I didn’t catch this particular specimen myself, but mackerel is reasonably plentiful all year round if one has a boat. Indeed, this fish, which is more than enough for one hungry customer, cost exactly £1 and was of a rather fetching quality. In actual fact, as you might imagine, it played the main role in this lunch which turned out to be, unequivocally, the best fish dish I’ve ever eaten. You may call me big-headed, but I’m simply stating the facts. That reminds me, never buy “fresh” fish from Spanish supermarkets.

Fennel leaf, a herb similar to, but a little stronger in flavour than dill, is the perfect accompaniment for a fish like baked mackerel. You see, it is a fish rich in oils and relatively strong in flavour, so the pleasantly pungent aroma of the fennel is well-matched. You’ll be glad to know that the fennel was hand-picked during a walk my mother, grandfather, sister and I took on Father’s Day. The wild plant was so fresh and green that it was practically begging to be picked – so I took plenty of it and none has gone to waste.

I always say that fish ought to be cooked simply, since it is a meat that needs to be showcased. Never, when preparing a fish supper, should one disguise the delicate taste of the main event with a superfluity of flavours and spices – it simply isn’t necessary. As such, it seemed rather apt, given this mantra, to bake the fish in a light and subtle sauce. Indeed, the richness afforded by the wine, coupled with the wonderful aroma of cooked lemon and garlic worked wonders with the fennel, creating a thin gravy worthy of anyone’s bread. If you’ve never before experienced mackerel, this is the dish with which to begin; it is both simple and effective.

Baked Mackerel with Fennel and Lemon {recipe}

Serves 1-2

Ingredients:

• 1 medium sized mackerel, gutted

• A generous handful of fresh fennel leaves

• The juice and flesh of half a lemon

• A generous glug of white wine

• 1 clove of garlic

• Sea salt

• Pepper

• Olive oil

Method:

1. Arrange the fennel in a frying pan and place the mackerel on top. Splash over a little white wine and the lemon juice, before stuffing the fish with the lemon flesh. Season and slather with a little olive oil. Wrap the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes at 180C.

Baked Mackerel Recipe

Baked Mackerel Recipe

2. Remove the foil and grill for another 10 minutes until browned, be careful not to burn or overcook the fish. Pull each fillet away from the spine of the fish and serve with a little sourdough bread. Don’t forget to mop up those juices.

Baked Mackerel Recipe

Baked Mackerel Recipe

Cost: As already mentioned, the mackerel was extremely cheap, a trait exacerbated by the fact that this dish, with bread, would easily provide lunch for two. Not only that, but fennel leaf is easily found and one often has a little left-over white wine sauntering around one’s house. All in all, this dish should set one back around £1.50. However, it is made even more financially appealing by the frugal characteristics described above.

71 thoughts on “Baked Mackerel with Fennel and Lemon

  1. spree

    I hear the health benefits of mackerel touted all the time, Nick, but we don’t get it her (as far as I know) unless it’s in a can. You’ve sure made me want to try it! The seasoning’s – fennel frond, lemon, garlic, salt, num! num!

      1. Somer

        Yes! I can’t figure out how the swirly bits are done…

        Oh and my post earlier today, Cafe Rio stepped up to the plate and solved the issue. Sometimes a little negative blogging review is a good thing!

  2. Juls

    Mackerel is easily one of my favourite fish. I love it. It stops me being hungry and keeps the joints limber (I’m looking ahead here). I love anything fennel as well so this recipe looks like all kinds of win.

      1. Juls

        Do! Do lots and lots! I’ve been doing this ‘new years resolution’ of sorts that involved having at least one fish meal a week but I’m not allowed to use the five ‘big fish’ in the UK (cod, haddock, prawns, salmon and tuna) and mackerel is the fish usually closest to hand from reliable sources but I’m running out of recipes!

  3. Willow

    Gorgeous dish! I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever tried mackerel… but it sounds incredible, and the fennel, lemon, and garlic is always a winning combination! I’ll have to keep my eye out for fresh mackerel at the fish market.

  4. Bob Vivant

    We love mackerel here. Unfortunately, it’s easier to find it smoked than fresh. But smoked mackerel is delicious too. Hope to get my hands on a fresh one soon and give this a go. I love fennel in just about anything. Cheers!

  5. Ragamuffin Diaries

    this fish looks incredible! I absolutely love that first picture. I’ve never had fennel, but would really like to try it . I definitely agree that fish should be seasoned delicately. It has such great flavor on its own!!!!!

  6. Trish

    I had fresh caught mackeral once in Mexico, and it had such a strong after taste that it really put me off, but I always assumed it was the way they prepared it (I don’t remember how). would love to try this recipe.

  7. cheruko

    Always enjoy your recipies :) I live in Japan in a seaside town, and mackerel are very available, but I’ve never had the nerve to prepare one myself. I’d love to try this recipe, but I’m afraid I’ll have trouble finding fennel here. Let the grand search begin. In case I fail, though, is there any other herb that you think might compliment this fish?

  8. Just A Smidgen

    I love a simple main skillet dish, where the fish gets to be the star! I agree.. extra sauces (while I wouldn’t turn away from a good sauce) often mask the freshest of ingredients. I love the addition of fennel and the white wine.. well, I’d add a glug to my glass as well! Cheers! Smidge

  9. Eha

    A case of ‘less is more’ working to perfection, isn’t it?! And mackerel isn’t the only fish which would well benefit from this ‘treatment’ :) !

  10. lizzierosejewellery

    This would be perfect to cook when I’m home in the Algarve this summer, Mackerel is plentiful and cheap there. I’m the same though, don’t like the taste of fennel so would add whatever herb is growing in my garden at the time! Or just black pepper, sea salt and lemon is good. Cath

  11. Karista

    I don’t eat much mackeral but this looks so delish I’m definitely going to prepare it! Love the fennel too, I’m always looking for ways to use fennel. I’m totally in blog love. Your pictures are fantastic!

      1. Karista

        Love fennel! I find all sorts of excuses to use it. I’ll even it it raw in a salad but sauteed and used in a fish dish or fish stew is completely delightful. :)

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