I was really inspired by the gutsy and diverse flavour I got to experience in Marseille and it has definitely influenced my cooking since I have been back in not so hot or sunny London.
Mackerel appears to be a particularly popular fish over there, and to be quite honest it had really never been on my radar to cook with/ but that all changed while in Marseille where I had it at least twice for dinner and this rather unglamorous fish was transformed into something quite special when combined with the right ingredients!
In this dish the mackerel, pan fried for a maximum crispy skin, is paired with more Mediterranean ingredients - capers, fennel and olives and the most moorish anchovy breadcrumbs, to make the most flavourful, light and sophisticated pasta supper.
Perfect to keep summer alive on your plate just a little bit longer and a new favourite.
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 heads fennel, tough outer layer removed, cut into 5mm slices, fronds reserved
- 500g spaghetti
- ½ tsp dried chilli
- 20 black olives, stoned and halved
- 1 ½ tbsp capers
- 4 tbsp vermouth or white wine (optional)
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 sustainably sourced mackerel (or plaice) fillets
- 1 handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- Lemon wedges, to serve
FOR THE ANCHOVY BREADCRUMBS
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly bashed
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 60g breadcrumbs
- First, make the breadcrumbs.
- In a frying pan, warm the oil and garlic over a medium-low heat for about three minutes, until the garlic begins to colour and turn wrinkly.
- Turn the heat up to medium and add the anchovies, squishing them into the pan.
- Add the breadcrumbs, tossing them in the anchovy oil until they’re nicely coated and beginning to colour – three to four minutes.
- Once they’re a nice toasty colour, take off the heat and leave to cool in the pan.
- Put a large frying pan on a medium heat and add three tablespoons of oil.
- Add the garlic and fennel, and cook gently until they begin to soften – eight to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put a pan of salted water on to boil and cook the pasta.
- Once the fennel is soft and the garlic fragrant, add the chilli, olives, capers and white wine.
- Let it bubble away for a minute or two and reduce to a sauce, season, then take off the heat until the pasta is ready.
- Once the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving half a cup of the cooking liquid.
- Transfer the pasta to the pan with the fennel sauce, with a few splashes of its liquid, and put on a very low heat.
- Put the frying pan on a high heat. After a few minutes, add a tablespoon of oil, season the mackerel fillets well and fry, skin side down first, for two to three minutes on each side, until just done.
- Stir the parsley and any fennel fronds into the pasta, then transfer to plates.
- Top each plate with a mackerel fillet, sprinkle over the anchovy breadcrumbs and serve with a wedge of lemon.