Market Name: Mackerel
Scientific Name: Scomber scombrus
Common Name: Atlantic mackerel
Flavor: Full
Texture: Delicate/Medium

Mackerel is a handsome but underrated fish, probably because it doesn’t have the mild-whitefish profile American consumers are most comfortable with. The mackerel looks a lot like its cousin, the tuna, but smaller — usually 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds. Shaped for swift swimming, the Atlantic mackerel moves quickly when danger threatens — up to 70 mph. Mackerel travel in large schools on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the Northwest Atlantic, mackerel range from northern Carolina to southern Labrador. In the eastern Atlantic, they are found off Iceland and northern Norway. Europeans harvest them by freezer trawlers. The purse seine is the harvest method of choice for North American fishermen. Immature mackerel, called tinkers, are available in spring and weigh less than a pound. They are a traditional seasonal treat in New England and sell for a considerably lower price than mature fish, which reach their prime in the summer months.

Product Profile:
Mackerel has a rich, pronounced flavor. The meat is soft, flaky and moist. The outer bands of dark, strong-tasting meat along the midline may be cut out for a milder flavor. The raw fish looks grayish and oily but firms up and becomes off-white to beige when cooked. The skin of fresh fish should have a nice sheen, and the eyes should be bright and concave. Small scales cover the entire body and give the skin a velvety texture. The mackerel’s distinctive coloring quickly begins to fade after the fish dies.

You Should Know:
Poorly handled mackerel can produce histamine, which leads to scombroid poisoning. Keep properly refrigerated and buy only from reputable vendors.

Cooking Tips:
Mackerel is considered one of the more healthful fish because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Its oil content makes mackerel an excellent candidate for barbecuing or smoking. A lime marinade before cooking smooths the taste and firms and whitens the meat. Europeans temper the pronounced flavor of mackerel by serving it with a sharp, acidic sauce such as gooseberry or unsweetened cranberry sauce.

Cooking Methods: Bake,Broil,Grill,Poach,Smoke

Substitutions: Bluefish, Mahimahi, Large herring

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Whole (gutted or ungutted), H&G
Frozen: Whole (gutted or ungutted), H&G
Value-Added: Smoked, Cured (pickled), Salted

Global Supply: