About this recipe:Oily fish, such as mackerel, are a major source of heart-healthy, polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. They're traditionally served with slightly tart fruit or aromatic flavourings to balance their richness, provided here by apple juice, cider and aniseed-scented fennel. Serve with crusty wholegrain bread to mop up the delicious juices.
4 small mackerel, cleaned and trimmed
1 lemon, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5–6 large sprigs of fresh rosemary, divided into smaller sprigs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
150ml dry cider
300ml apple juice
1 tsp fennel seeds
200g kale, finely shredded
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Method Prep:30min › Cook:30min › Ready in:1hr
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. Season the fish inside and out, then make 4–5 diagonal slashes on each side. Tuck 3–4 halved lemon slices inside each fish together with a few slivers of garlic and rosemary sprigs. Insert the remaining garlic and rosemary into the slashes to flavour the fish as it cooks.
Heat the oil in a pan over a moderate heat. Add the fennel and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the bay leaf, cider and about half of the apple juice. Cook for a further 4–5 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half. Add the remaining apple juice and warm through.
Transfer the fennel mixture to an ovenproof dish, large enough to allow the fish to lie in a single layer. Lay the mackerel on top and sprinkle with fennel seeds. Cover with foil, then cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
Scatter the shredded kale over the fish, then cover again and return to the oven. Cook for a further 8–10 minutes until the kale is tender. Serve hot.
*Leave out the cider and use all apple juice, if you prefer. *Other fish such as tilapia or red mullet can be cooked in the same way. Use a combination of dry white wine, orange juice and light fish or vegetable stock instead of the cider and apple juice.