How to Cook Mackerel and Mackerel Recipes

Mackerel fishcakes is one of the ideas you will find on this page
Mackerel fishcakes is one of the ideas you will find on this page

An Introduction to Mackerel

Mackerel is a species of fish which is high in Omega 3 oils, deemed to be good for the health of our hearts. The fish is by no means one of the most popular eating choices and is often under-rated and thus under-valued. I hope to look on this page at some different ways to cook mackerel and show that it is very much a fish which can be enjoyed in a taste capacity as well as a healthful capacity.

Fresh Mackerel
Fresh Mackerel

Preparing Mackerel for Cooking

There are several different ways in which mackerel may be purchased, ranging from whole and uncleaned to filleted. Purchasing them whole provides the best opportunity to ensure that they are as fresh as they should be and it of course remains an option to thereafter fillet them. The Hub linked to below details what to look for when purchasing fresh fish.

Buying Fresh Mackerel

Poaching Whole Mackerel
Poaching Whole Mackerel

Poaching Whole Mackerel

The simplest way to cook mackerel which have been purchased whole is to poach them in a large pot or pan. The mackerel should of course be gutted, but otherwise left intact. They should then be added to a pot as shown and enough cold water added to comfortably cover the fish. Salt should be added to the water, then the pot should be put on to a high heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, the heat should be turned off and the fish left to cook as the water cools.

I remember once being out fishing on a charter boat where the skipper had a small, onboard stove in the cabin cum galley. He had a huge pan in which he placed some of the mackerel that were caught early in the day and added copious amounts of seawater. The fish were then cooked in this fashion and enjoyed cold by all on board as we returned to port at the end of the trip. It is one of the most delicious ways I have ever eaten mackerel.

Pan Fried Mackerel Fillet
Pan Fried Mackerel Fillet
Pan Fried Mackerel Fillet (Skin Removed)
Pan Fried Mackerel Fillet (Skin Removed)

Pan Frying Mackerel Fillets

This cooking technique for mackerel is one more often employed for salmon fillets. It involves patting the skin side of the fish only in some seasoned flour, before frying it skin side down on a moderate heat in a mixture of butter and oil. When the fillet can be seen to be almost fully cooked, the heat should be turned off, the fillet turned and left to finish cooking in the residual heat for about a minute.

The fish should be plated skin side up. Although the skin on mackerel is very thin, it should have crisped up nicely and should be able to be peeled off very easily. In the event of any difficulty experienced in peeling it away by hand, easing it gently free with a blunt edged knife should ensure that the job is done properly.

Pan Fried Mackerel in Oatmeal
Pan Fried Mackerel in Oatmeal

Pan Fried Mackerel in Oatmeal

If you prefer to cook your mackerel in a pan with something which will give it a crispy coating, oatmeal is an excellent and healthy choice. The fillet should be padded in the oatmeal on both sides, before being fried gently for a couple of minutes each side in a little oil.

Mackerel Fishcakes

Fishcakes are not normally made from an oily fish like mackerel. They are far more often prepared using a white fish, such as cod or haddock. This does not mean to say, however, that mackerel is unsuited to making fishcakes and especially where the mackerel is perhaps combined with one of the aforementioned white fish species, the result can be very satisfying.

The mackerel is first of all filleted and poached in boiling water for six or seven minutes until cooked. It should then be removed from the pot, covered and allowed to cool. The fish should then be flaked by hand, with care taken to remove the skin and any small bones which may remain.

The mackerel flakes are then mixed with cold mashed potato, seasoning and perhaps a fresh herb such as parsley. The mixture should then be rolled in to balls before being flattened between the palms of the hands. It will provide a far better final result if the fishcakes are then refrigerated for a couple of hours to firm up before being cooked.

The fishcakes should be dipped in egg before being patted in fresh breadcrumbs. This process should then be repeated for best effect. The fishcakes should then be fried for about five minutes each side in a little oil.

More Fabulous Fish Recipes on Hub Pages

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Comments and Feedback 6 comments

Dave 4 years ago

Just baked a mackerel and found that it had a distinct, almost liver-ish taste. I much prefer it smoked or pickled.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Dave. Thanks for the visit and comment. I would definitely agree with you that baking mackerel is not the tastiest way to cook it. I love it smoked and pickled also but try poaching them whole, especially where they are freshly caught. This method is also delicious.


amillar profile image

amillar 4 years ago from Scotland, UK

Hi Gordon,

I had some mackerel to cook and googled for help and you hub came up. Thanks for the info. I think I'll go for the oatmeal coating lightly fried. Cheers.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, amillar. Hope you enjoyed your mackerel in oatmeal. Thanks for visiting and commenting.


soulfully profile image

soulfully 3 years ago

I love eating Mackerel, it has a delicious flavor to it. I've boiled it, grilled, oven baked, and steam cooked it, but I've never tried the oatmeal recipe. I'll keep it in mind for the next time I buy some. Thanks!


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Thanks soulfully - I hope you enjoy it! :)

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