Holy mackerel

Tuna, salmon, sardines have been popular sandwich-stuffers and salad toppers for decades. Shifted to the side, virtually ignored, was another fish – mackerel. Holy mackerel! Why?

Mackerel is the common name for members of the family Scombridae, which includes many species of open-sea fishes, including the bonito and tuna. Mackerel is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids; some varieties have a stronger, oilier flavor than other fish, as saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat from about 5 grams per 3-ounce serving.

Mackerels are pelagic fish. Examples of species include forage fish such as anchovies, sardines, shad, and menhaden and the predatory fish that feed on them. Oceanic pelagic fish typically inhabit waters below the continental shelf. Pelagic fishes are those that spend much of their lives swimming in open water away from the bottom. These areas are highly productive and supply nutrients for the growth of plankton which forms the food for the smaller pelagic species. A mackerel is typically less than 2 feet in length. Fourteen-inch fish weigh about 1 pound in the spring and about 1¼ pounds in the fall when they are fat; 18-inch fish weigh about 2 to 2½ pounds; a 22-inch mackerel will likely weigh 4 pounds. Examples of pelagic fish include larger fish such as swordfish, tuna, mackerel, and even sharks. Of these, the mackerel is the smallest. They are found in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean regions.

Typically, a mackerel has fins, gills, and they are considered kosher. Popular kosher fish are bass, carp, cod, flounder, halibut, herring, sardines, mackerel, trout and salmon.

Mackerel is an oily fish, a rich source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The flesh of mackerel spoils quickly, especially in the tropics, and can cause scombroid, a type of food poisoning. Mackerel should be eaten on the day of capture, unless properly refrigerated or cured. Mackerel preservation is not simple. In the USA, you can find canned and smoked mackerel that’s perfectly safe. While salmon and tuna are caught in colder climates, they are also vulnerable to the bacteria that may result in food poisoning. So why is mackerel segregated from other canned fish products?

A serving 3 ounces of cooked Boston mackerel contains 1.1 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Like tuna, mackerel is also an important source of protein and B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12. A 3-ounce serving provides nearly 700 percent of the recommended daily amount of the vitamin. Canned mackerel provides comparable nutritional values.

It should be noted that (if you are monitoring cholesterol) there is about 79.0 mg amount of Cholesterol in 100 grams (3-ounces) portion amount of Fish, mackerel, canned food, drained solids. It is similar to salmon, a little bit more than tuna, or sardines. Although fish will not help to lower cholesterol, it has lots of benefits for your heart. Omega-3 fats, which are found in oil-rich fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines, are very beneficial for your heart. It is also believed that eating fatty fish several times per week may help increase HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol). These fish may also reduce triglycerides.

Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are said to help against cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, age-related vision loss and dementia. It’s a good source of vitamin D, protein, some B vitamins and selenium. It’s also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that is good for health and digestion. Why do few restaurants serve Mackerel in the USA?

Among the two-dozen species of Mackerel found around the world, some have a fishy odor. People in many Asian countries may like it. People in European and USA consider that type of mackerel as a pet food ingredient. In the USA, mackerel tastes like a cross between Hake and Swai and is part of normal diets, as a mild tasting fish. Atlantic mackerel or jack mackerel are popular and safe in the USA. Jack mackerel is sourced from the Pacific, along the California coast. Jack mackerel usually is sold canned.

Most people hate to eat mackerel because they don’t know how to cook them. Broil or bake the mackerel (remove fat from the flesh, don’t add more fat/oil). Some people like to bake them with a little anchovy paste/butter – try it. Bar-b-queued mackerel is fairly good and smoked mackerel is even better. But no, it will never be the same as eating halibut but halibut often sells at 3-4 times the price as mackerel.

Mackerel may be pan fried if placed on a grill. For example:

Heat a roasting pan with rack in the oven at around 400 degrees.
Clean the fish, pad dry, and covered it in olive oil, salt, and pepper. …
Stuff slices of lemon into the cavity.
Place the fish on the hot rack.
Cook for about 20 minutes on each side, or until they are crispy.

Compared to salmon, mackerel may have a fishier taste. Yet…there are many mackerel recipes available.

Mackerel is a relatively inexpensive fish. Fresh Mackerel often sells for less than $5.00 per pound. Canned mackerel sells for about $2.00 per 15-ounce can. As such, more people can access mackerel and its nutrients in a healthy diet, as salads, fish cakes, and stews.

Why is mackerel so holy? Many agree that the phrase is a euphemism for Holy Mary. Blurting “Holy Mackerel” instead of taking the Madonna’s name in vain. Holy mackerel is phrase having no direct relationship to the fish? Originally, Catholics were told to have fish on Fridays. Mackerel were relatively easy to catch and, thus, became very popular Friday foods.

Mackerel is a big, oily fish, similar to tuna, but it has lower levels of mercury per serving, and is less at risk of overfishing. It’s high in both omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and a good source of protein, and has been found to lower blood pressure in men. Pregnant? King mackerel contains too much mercury to be considered safe during pregnancy.

USA Government dietary guidelines recommend that people eat fish twice a week. It offers significant protein and nutrients, and we know that fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids—which can benefit both heart and brain. While most use 3 ounces as a serving, a portion is around 140g (4.9oz). Compared to tuna and wild salmon, mackerel has lower Mercury levels.

Just as you would make tuna, salmon, shrimp or sardine salad sandwiches, mackerel may be another alternative. Mash it with dressing, onions, shredded carrots, and diced celery, I doubt any eater would know the difference.

There really isn’t anything holy about mackerel. It is a reasonable, inexpensive, and healthy alternative to tuna, salmon, and sardines. These days, when budgets seem tight, mackerel is a great, cheap addition for you and your family to get the nutrition and protein they need.