This dish is very much inspired by my travels in Japan and, like many of my classic dishes, its composition has evolved over the years. The richness of the dish is counterbalanced by sweet and sharp flavours. The glaze on the mackerel skin lends crispness. The fennel salad gives a crunchy texture to the dish, and the rocket gives it freshness and pepperiness. Truly delicious.
For the mackerel and the dressing
mackerel fillets, skin on
fresh ginger, finely grated
For the fennel salad
fennel, washed and trimmed
rocket leaves, washed and drained
extra virgin olive oil
1 good pinch of
salt and pepper
fennel seeds (soaked in water overnight and toasted in a dry pan)
To prepare the fennel
Remove the core from the fennel, then cut into very thin slices, using a Japanese mandolin or sharp knife. Immerse the sliced fennel in a bowl of iced water and set aside for 20 minutes.
*The iced water will crisp and curl up the fennel giving it a great texture. It will also remove some of the sugars, which can otherwise be too pronounced. Make sure the fennel is well drained before using.
To prepare the Mackerel
Preheat your grill to high.
Check the mackerel for any bones, lightly score the skin at 2cm intervals.
Place the mackerel fillets skin side up on a baking tray. Place under the hot grill for 4–5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets, until the skin is crisp and golden and the fish is just cooked.
To finish the fennel salad
While the mackerel is under the grill, drain the fennel, pat dry in a clean tea towel and place in a large bowl with the rocket leaves, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and seasoning.
Lightly mix together to combine and sprinkle with the toasted fennel seeds and divide between four plates or one large serving plater.
Remove the Mackerel from the grill and pour the glaze over the skin of each fillet.
Place the Mackerel fillet onto the fennel salad and spoon the glaze from the baking tray over and around the plate and serve.
Other oily fish, such as tuna or salmon, could be used in place of the mackerel. And the salad leaves can, of course, be varied – try adding baby spinach or watercress, for example. Some caramelised almonds or peanuts would make an interesting addition, too.