Gill Meller’s Taste of Dorset: Fried mackerel with tomatoes, garlic & herbs

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Gill Meller

5 min read

Gill Meller, award-winning food writer and chef, loves the produce he can find around his Dorset home. Whether you’ve managed to catch your own mackerel or not, here’s his simple but delicious serving suggestion.

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‘I really like this dish. For me as a cook, and someone who loves food, it embodies everything I believe in and is right. These ingredients are honest, we can trust they will be good if we treat them kindly: from the sea kindly, out of the earth kindly, in the pan kindly.’


Serves 2 

150-200g (51⁄2-7oz) ripe cherry tomatoes, on or off the vine 

2 bay leaves 

3 or 4 thyme sprigs 

2 large marjoram sprigs 

2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin 

olive oil 

1 knob of butter 

1 large mackerel, filleted, skin on 

salt and freshly ground black pepper 



Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. 

Place the tomatoes in a small roasting tin or baking tray with the herbs, garlic and olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. 

Place in the hot oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes are splitting and lightly blistered. Remove from the oven and set aside. 

Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the butter, then the two mackerel fillets, skin-side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the fillets are almost cooked through, then flip the fish over and switch off the heat. The fillets will cook through in the residual heat of the pan. 

Divide the roasted tomatoes equally between two warm plates, then serve the mackerel alongside, trickled with a spoonful or two of the herby, garlicky juices. 


View Gill Meller’s taste of Dorset food and drink guide here >

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All photography (c) Andrew Montgomery.

Gill Meller

Gill Meller is a chef, award-winning food writer, food stylist and cookery teacher who lives and works in Dorset. Gill works closely with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage. He appears regularly on the celebrated Channel 4 series, and teaches both at the River Cottage Cookery School and internationally. A contributor to the Observer, Guardian, Waitrose Food, Telegraph, Delicious and Country Living to name but a few. Gill's first book, Gather (2016), won the Fortnum & Mason Award for Best Debut Food Book, and both Time (2018) and Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower (2020) were nominated for the Guild of Food Writers Cookbook of the Year. He is also the author of the River Cottage Handbook on Outdoor Cooking and his latest book, 'Outside recipes for a wilder way of eating' is available now. 
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