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Mackerel Fish Cakes with Fennel

A quick, simple dish of mackerel fish cakes with fennel from Rick Stein. This easy family fish recipe is perfect served with a fresh green salad.


I'm very fond of mackerel in fish cakes. The taste takes me right back to my childhood in Cornwall, when we used to go out feathering for mackerel around Padstow or the Scilly Isles. Couple it with some fresh fennel and a simple fish cake becomes something much more special. Except that the only sauce to go with this is tomato ketchup!

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450g (1lb) floury potatoes such as Maris Piper, peeled and cut into chunks
900g (2lb) whole mackerel
2 tbsp chopped fresh fennel herb or dill
25g (1oz) butter, melted
1 tsp salt
10 turns of the black pepper mill
1 tbsp Pernod or Ricard (optional)
50g (2oz) plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
150g (5oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil for deep frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, drain well and then mash.

Pre-heat the grill to high. Make 2-3 shallow cuts in either side of each mackerel – this helps the heat to penetrate the fish – and season well with salt and pepper. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, then cool slightly. When the mackerel are cool enough to handle, flake the flesh, discarding the skin and bones.

Mix the mashed potato and flaked mackerel with the chopped fennel herb or dill, melted butter, salt, pepper and the Pernod or Ricard, if using. Divide the mixture into 8 and shape into rounds 2.5cm (1in) thick. Chill for about 20 minutes, until firm.

Pour the oil into a large pan so that it no more than half full and heat to 180C / 350F, or until a small piece of bread dropped into it browns and rises to the surface in 1 1/2 minutes.

Dip the fishcakes first in the seasoned flour; then in the beaten eggs and finally in the breadcrumbs, pressing them on well to give an even coating. Deep-fry for about 4 minutes, until crisp and golden, then lift out and drain briefly on kitchen paper before serving.

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