Mackerel with grilled asparagus, fennel and lemon

Serves 4

The mackerel seem to have arrived early this year – when I was in Dorset a few weeks ago, a couple of local boats came in with a few hundred apiece, along with some herring. That was the weekend I first spotted the St Enedoc asparagus, although I never got round to cooking the two together.

This dish would work with most fish, such as trout, bass or mullet, cooked whole on the barbecue – and even better if you've caught them yourself (though then you'll need to gut them too, of course). Also, if you know where to find wild fennel, which normally grows near the coast, you can grab a handful for the dressing.

  • 4 small mackerel or 4 large fillets, heads removed and gutted
  • 16-20 medium asparagus spears
  • For the dressing
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • The juice and grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1tbsp chopped fennel or dill
  • 3-4tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the woody stalks from the asparagus and cook the spears in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water. Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing and season.

Score the mackerel through the skin 4 or 5 times, season and brush with oil. If you have excess wild fennel, you can stuff it into the cavity. Cook the mackerel for 5-6 minutes on each side on a medium heat on the barbecue. While the mackerel is cooking, grill the asparagus for a couple of minutes on each side.

Arrange the mackerel and asparagus on plates and spoon the dressing on top.

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