RECIPE: Mackerel with an Orange & Fennel Dressing - Exeter Festival of Food & Drink

RECIPE: Mackerel with an Orange & Fennel Dressing

Psssst. Here’s what Jim Fisher from the Exeter Cookery School will be demonstrating on Fish Friday at this year’s festival.

Co-owner and head chef / tutor at the award-winning Exeter Cookery School, Best in the South West according to Food Magazine readers, Jim Fisher is an entertaining and engaging demo chef who has honed his skills during an extensive culinary career. A former Masterchef semi-finalist, Jim first started cheffing in the kitchens of Exeter’s White Hart Hotel, where he met and proposed to his now wife and business partner, Lucy. He then went on to cook alongside Rick Stein in Padstow and Alistair Little in Notting Hill before the couple upped sticks and headed to the Dordogne to open up a residential cookery school. Despite the locals’ bemusement at the idea of an Englishman teaching anyone to cook, not least in France, CookinFrance became a big hit! Fifteen years later, Jim and Lucy returned to the UK, following their roots back to Devon, and are now making a huge success of their exciting new venture on Exeter’s thriving quayside.


Serves four

  • 2 large un-waxed oranges
  • 250ml fresh orange juice
  • 250ml fish stock
  • 50ml dry white wine
  • 1 large fennel bulb, with outer leaves removed & thinly sliced
  • 8 mackeral fillets, pin-boned but with the skin left on
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for dusting
  • 1tbsp rapeseed or light olive oil


1. Using a zester, zest the oranges into a small saucepan. Halve the oranges and squeeze
the juice into the pan. Add the extra orange juice, the fish stock and dry white wine. Add
the fennel slices.
2. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until the fennel is cooked but still retaining a
little bite. Remove the fennel with a slotted spoon and reserve.
3. Continue to simmer the liquid, reducing it to a quarter of its original volume. The resultant
liquid should be the consistence of a light syrup – if not, continue to reduce over a gentle
4. To cook the fish: Turn the grill on to high.
5. Smear the mackerel fillets on both sides with a little rapeseed oil, then season lightly with
salt and pepper. Place skin-side up on an oiled baking tray and place high up under the
6. Grill for approximately 2 minutes, by which time the skin will have browned and crisped up. Remove the fish from under the grill and allow to finish cooking on the tray while you finish the sauce.
7. Re-warm the fennel slices in the orange/fish liquid and add a little splash of oil. Season
the sauce with salt only and add a few drops of lemon juice to ‘lift’ the flavour.
8. Languidly swirl the pan to combine the ingredients, then lob over the gurnard and fennel slices.

Voilà! Bon appétit.