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Fried Mackerel in Oatmeal with Bacon

by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher

from The River Cottage Fish Book (Bloomsbury)

Photography: Simon Wheeler

An oatmeal coating is traditional for fried herring, where it provides a lovely, crunchy contrast to the fish’s oily flesh, but it works just as well with other oily fish, such as mackerel. The bacon contributes its own, salty-sweet savour, making the whole combination surprisingly rich and substantial.

Serves 2


2 mackerel, filleted

100g medium oatmeal

1 tablespoon sunflower or groundnut oil

4 streaky bacon rashers, cut into lardons

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Season the mackerel fillets well. Spread the oatmeal out on a plate. Coat the mackerel in the oatmeal, pressing it on to the fish firmly.

Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil, then the bacon. Cook until crisp and golden, then remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan.

Keeping the pan on a medium heat, add the coated mackerel fillets, flesh side down. Fry for 1 minute, then turn over and fry for 1-2 minutes, until the skin beneath the oatmeal is golden brown.

Serve the fried mackerel straight away, with the crisp bacon, some bread and butter and a salad. Or, if you want to make a breakfast of it, serve with a fried egg on the side.

Also works with:

· Herring

· Sardines

· Garfish

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