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Quick-fried mackerel fillets with garlic and bay

This is perhaps the simplest way to enjoy a catch of fresh mackerel when you get home, tired but elated after a few good hours at sea. It s super-quick and very family friendly.


Cut the fillets from either side of the mackerel, bait-cutter style. Season them with a little salt and pepper.

Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a thin film of olive oil. When the oil is fairly hot, scatter in the garlic and bay leaves, then lay the mackerel fillets over them, skin side down. You're looking for a gentle sizzle rather than a fierce flash-fry.

As it cooks, the mackerel flesh will change from translucent pink to opaque white. When the fillets are almost completely white, turn them over for just a minute to finish cooking. The whole process won't take longer than 5 minutes.

Let the garlic and bay just sizzle in the oil under and next to the fish, flavouring it gently.

Lift the mackerel fillets from the pan, leaving the bay and garlic behind (they're probably just starting to burn a bit).

Give the fillets a squeeze of lemon juice and serve straight away, with salad (a sliced tomato salad is delicious with mackerel) and either new potatoes or buttered bread.


  • Fresh mackerel, 1 per person
  • Olive oil
  • A few garlic cloves, thickly sliced
  • A few bay leaves, roughly torn
  • ½ lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Fish

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