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Grilled Boston Mackerel with Fennel and Lemon

By Jeremy Sewall From Moveable Feast Season 1, Ep.11
Scott Phillips

Servings: 4 (first course)

A fish that truly has the flavor of the sea, Boston mackerel is rich, succulent, and a great sustainable seafood choice. It’s a natural for smoking and pickling, too.


  • 1 Tbs. canola oil, more for the grill
  • 3 baby or 1 large fennel bulb with fronds (about 1 lb.), stalks removed, fronds and bulbs reserved
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 4-oz. fresh Boston mackerel or sardines, heads and tails intact, gutted, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 oz. baby arugula (1 packed cup)
  • 12 small basil leaves


  • Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Lightly oil the grill rack.
  • Chop 2 Tbs. fennel fronds and set aside.  Halve, core, and thinly slice the fennel bulbs crosswise.
  • Squeeze the juice from one of the lemons into a large bowl and whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream. Add the fennel, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and toss well. Let marinate while grilling the fish, then add the chopped fronds, arugula, and basil to the fennel and toss to combine. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Lightly score the fish on the diagonal 3 times on each side with a sharp knife. Rub the canola oil and juice from the remaining lemon over both sides of the fish. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the fish, turning once, until just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total.
  • Serve the salad with the fish.


Recipe adapted from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.

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