Sgombri al Finocchiello

Mackerel with Wild Fennel


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

Le Marche is a coastal region and fish plays an important part of the daily diet in the towns and villages that dot the shoreline. Fishermen and their families generally eat their smaller catch, often salted to preserve it for longer, and sell the larger and more profitable fish. Although mackerel isn’t considered to be a much sought-after fish, it tastes superb when cooked with care and with some thoughtfully chosen ingredients, such as fennel.


  • 1.2 kg/ lb fresh mackerel, cleaned
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 small onions or shallots, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large celery stick, chopped
  • a small handful of wild fennel fronds, chopped (see Cook’s Tips)
  • a small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 5 cm/2 in piece of unwaxed orange peel, chopped
  • juice of ½ orange
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp tomato paste diluted with 15 ml/1 tbsp hot water or stock (see Cook’s Tips)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Boil the mackerel in lightly salted water until cooked through (see Cook’s Tips). Gently remove the cooked fish from the pan and fillet them carefully. Discard the bones, head and skin.

  2. Put the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions or shallots, carrots, celery, fennel, parsley, garlic and orange peel for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the orange juice. Stir and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste. Cook for a further 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Arrange the fish on a serving platter and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately, or chill to serve cold.