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Ingredient

Mackerel

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What is it?

Mackerel is more common name for several species of slim, cylindrical fish that have rich, firm, oily flesh and strong flavor. Mackerels tend to live in tropical and temperate climates from the warm areas of the Atlantic and Pacific, to the Mediterranean, to the Indian Ocean.

Though mackerel is prized by the Japanese for the robust flavor it delivers in sushi preparations, it has until recently been overlooked by American cooks, who have favored milder-tasting fish. But with its high omega-3 oil content, mackerel is a heart-healthy choice that’s growing in popularity. Plus, the methods used to catch Atlantic mackerel (the most widely available variety in the U.S.) don’t damage the ocean’s ecosystem, so it’s a good sustainable choice.

Don’t have it?

If you can’t find it, you can usually substitute another oily full-flavored fish like salmon, tuna, or swordfish.

How to choose:

As with all fish, when you’re shopping for mackerel, shop with both your eyes and your nose. Put your nose near the fish; it should smell fresh, not strong or unpleasant. If you’re buying it whole, the eyes should be bright and full, not murky or sunken. And the flesh should feel firm and bounce back when pressed. Fresh fish is bright and shiny, not blemished or slimy.

How to prep:

Mackerel’s rich, strong flavor is exactly why we like it. This assertiveness pairs well with complex ingredients like miso and soy and is complemented by citrus and bright vinaigrettes. You can also try it paired with bold, bright flavors like garlic, ginger, and full-flavored herbs. It’s delicious sautéed, grilled, smoked, or roasted but too oily for poaching.

How to store:

Because of it’s higher fat content, mackerel flesh spoils quickly. It’s best consumed the same day it’s caught, otherwise it should be cured. For this reason, mackerel is one of the rare types of sushi that’s salt-cured.

    Recipes

  • Moveable Feast

    Grilled Boston Mackerel with Fennel and Lemon

    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.

  • Recipe

    Miso-Roasted Atlantic Mackerel

    Mackerel can be bony, so use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to remove any pin bones. Also, its oily nature causes it to develop a fishy flavor fast, so always buy…

  • Recipe

    Mackerel Provençal

    I think mackerel is one of the most underrated fish in the United States. Its rich, full flavor makes it ideal for grilling.

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