Are Spanish Mackerel Good to Eat?

Spanish mackerel are one of the most sought-after fish in the ocean due to their exceptional taste and nutrient-packed meat. Spanish mackerel can be cooked and eaten in a variety …

Spanish mackerel are one of the most sought-after fish in the ocean due to their exceptional taste and nutrient-packed meat. Spanish mackerel can be cooked and eaten in a variety of different methods, as long as it’s cooked properly.

Spanish mackerel produces an attractive plate-size cutlet or an essentially boneless fillet. Mackerel can be fried, baked, poached, grilled, marinated, smoked and barbecued. It is considered by some to be the best barbecue fish in the South Pacific and Asia.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the important points you should know when it comes to cooking and eating Spanish mackerel.

What Does Spanish Mackerel Taste Like?

Spanish mackerel fillets are usually described as having a very mild flavor that tastes great when prepared with common ingredients like lime juice, melted butter, or other types of light oil and spices.

Compared to other types of fish species, Spanish mackerel tastes less ‘fishy’ and more mild, which makes it a great choice of fish for introducing someone to wild-caught seafood.

Preparing and Eating Spanish Mackerel

It’s crucial that you are careful in how you prepare them if you’re going to eat Spanish mackerel. As you might assume, they are very similar to king mackerel in that the meat can be easily ruined if you don’t know exactly how to prepare the fish.

It’s important to bleed Spanish mackerel in order to produce the best-cooked fillets, whether you intend to have smoked, fried or grilled Spanish mackerel.

How to Clean and Prepare Spanish Mackerel

Remove the rib cage, bloodline and any skin in order to lessen the fishy taste that usually accompanies most saltwater fish species.

It’s important to have a distinct plan for how you intend to cook and clean Spanish mackerel. After bleeding the fish, you can filet the Spanish mackerel just like you would any other fish. They are very easily filleted since the Spanish mackerel has an essentially boneless fillet.

These boneless fillets, coupled with the mild taste, are why so many consider Spanish mackerel to be an especially good eating finfish. It’s crucial to remove the rib cage, bloodline and any skin in order to lessen the fishy taste that usually accompanies most saltwater fish species.

There are many cooking methods used to cook Spanish mackerel, nearly all of which are outstanding due to the delicious fillets and lack of bone within each fillet.

Many consider Spanish mackerel to be the best barbecue fish in the ocean. In order to cook them as barbecue fish, you’ll need to dice the mackerel fillets into small chunks, which will then be cooked according to your recipe.

They are typically smaller than king mackerel and two Spanish mackerel fillets are usually enough to produce an attractive plate size cutlet for about one person per filet.

Cooking Spanish Mackerel

It’s not difficult to find a Spanish mackerel recipe that fits the flavor preference of just about anyone. Spanish mackerels can be cleaned with little trouble and are excellent eating baked or grilled.

You can’t go wrong with one of the tried-and-true methods that I commonly use for cooking Spanish mackerel. Simply cover part of the grill with aluminum foil and lay the fillets out before spreading melted butter over them and pouring lemon juice over the fish.

This method works for a wide variety of other fish species like tuna and salmon, but it’s one that is especially tasty when used on Spanish mackerel.

Spanish Mackerel Recipes

A beautiful oily fish, mackerel is as healthy as it is delicious. 

There are seemingly endless methods of cooking Spanish mackerel that you can use to enjoy these delicious fish. Some of my personal favorites are recipes that are relatively simple and don’t require a flair for culinary expertise.

If you’re a fan of fried seafood, this recipe for fried mackerel bites is one that is a definite crowd-pleaser. It works with king mackerel and other popular species as well. One average size Spanish mackerel is enough to make a dinner-for-two out of this recipe.

If you like to get a bit more creative with the grill, here’s a solid recipe for rosemary-grilled mackerel with mustard-dill mayonnaise. It involves some unique ingredients, but is a great way to bring out the fish’s flavors as the Spanish mackerel’s taste is one of a slightly acidic note.

Since Spanish mackerel offer an essentially boneless fillet, it’s also recommended that you give this barbecued Spanish mackerel cutlet recipe a try. Unlike most other types of barbecue, Spanish mackerel fillets are are rich source of a variety of different nutrients that are essential to healthy-living.

These types of recipes are why many consider Spanish mackerel to be one of the best barbecue fish in the south Pacific.

Can You Eat Spanish Mackerel Raw?

Spanish mackerels are an incredibly healthy type of fish that can be eaten raw but it should be done very carefully because its meat can be easily ruined.

Yes, Spanish mackerel can be eaten raw if you choose, but it must be done carefully. It’s important to note that Spanish mackerel spoils quickly, so it’s imperative that you consume any raw mackerel meat shortly after the fish is caught.

Many people enjoy marinating Spanish mackerel in lemon or lime juice for about 12 hours before consuming them as a sushi or sashimi dish.

Although Spanish mackerels are an incredibly healthy type of fish, you can encounter scombroid food poisoning if you allow the meat to sit out too long before cooking or consuming it.

Is Spanish Mackerel High in Mercury?

Like most Atlantic mackerel, Spanish mackerel are relatively low in mercury content. This means that most people are safe to consume this type of fish multiple times in a week.

Spanish mackerel, like any other predatory fish, usually consume small baitfish that are known to eat toxic algae. It’s usually through eating smaller fish like this that they collect mercury levels that might be dangerous to humans. However, in the Atlantic Ocean, it’s typically very safe to eat Spanish mackerel.

Is Spanish Mackerel a Health Fish To Eat?

Spanish mackerels are known to have huge health benefits as their meat contains nutrient-rich polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega 3 fatty acids that have beneficial effects on joint health and other areas.

Their reputation as an oily fish that contains fatty acids with huge health benefits. They’re also one of the richest sources for omega 3 fatty acids of any fish in the ocean.

Such health benefits are why many people eat Spanish mackerels on a regular basis, especially those fortunate enough to live near the coast.

More about Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel distribution

Spanish mackerel are a good fish to target both for sport, or for keeping and cooking them for dinner.

Spanish mackerel are one of the most prevalent fish throughout the world’s oceans. They are found all over the Indo-Pacific oceans around Asia and all around the continent of Australia. Many anglers target them around the coast of China and Japan, as well as the Atlantic coast of North America.

It’s common to find Spanish mackerel in deeper water away from the shoreline. They typically don’t venture too close to the beach, but can be caught off of piers or around coastal rocks and reefs where a litany of other species are also found.

Catching Spanish Mackerel

In addition to the fact that Spanish mackerel are incredibly-tasty fish, they are also fun to catch with a rod and reel. Many anglers fishing along piers and offshore fishing boats often hook Spanish mackerel using a variety of methods.

One of the more commonly-used Spanish mackerel lures is a simple bucktail jig, which anglers fish in a vertical fashion, or casting it out into schools of bait fish. Spanish mackerel are one of the types of fish I often catch when fishing with a jerk bait. These lures work by sharply jerking or twitching the rod tip as you retrieve the lure on each cast.

Spanish mackerel can also be caught from the surf using a variety of fast-moving artificial lures and spoons. They are a good fish to target both for sport, or for keeping and cooking them for dinner.

Spanish Mackerel stocks and sustainability

There have been serious concerns about Spanish mackerel stocks and sustainability across parts of the world. In recent years, there have been serious efforts made by officials in Australia to curb the overall number of Spanish mackerels that anglers are able to harvest each year.

Being such a highly sought-after fish for their delicious taste makes them especially vulnerable to over-fishing and being pressured too heavily. However, in most areas of the world where they area found, Spanish mackerel exist in healthy, sustainable numbers.

Final Thoughts on Eating Spanish Mackerel

It’s easy to understand why so many anglers target Spanish mackerel, both for sport fishing and for harvesting. They are a lot of fun to catch and offer some of the best seafood fillets you can get with a rod and reel.

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Donny Karr is a respected fishing writer and passionate fisherman who loves targeting largemouth bass and a range of other species. He's a specialist on using the latest gear and techniques to boost fishing success.
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