Spanish Mackerel

Among Australia’s most popular commercial fishes (particularly in the north of the country), mackerels have a thin, edible skin with few scales—making them very popular to enjoy when dining out or at home. Spanish mackerel, an especially good eating finfish, produces an attractive plate-size cutlet or an essentially boneless fillet.

Fillets of narrow-barred Spanish mackerel

Fillets of narrow-barred Spanish mackerel

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. One should always take particular care not to overcook mackerel, and if the mackerel is being fried it should first be lightly salted. Mackerel frames are excellent for fish stock.

The high oiliness of these species often requires the addition of an acid to balance the richness. This is easily achieved by baking the mackerel with vinegar and vegetables that, in turn, will give the mackerel a slightly pickled taste and provide a balance of flavours. Mackerel is also perfectly suited to an aromatic herb crust, served with baked tomatoes and anchovy butter.

Some mackerel is deep fried in “fish and chip” shops in northern Queensland. This cooking method is otherwise uncommon for mackerel.

Fish, mackerel, spanish, raw

To Buy Spanish Mackerel :
Sold mainly as cutlets and steaks. In cutlets and steaks look for bright off-white, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any dark brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.

To Store Spanish Mackerel :
Make sure whole fish is scaled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Wrap whole fish, fillets and cutlets in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 2 days (it is best eaten as fresh as possible) or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

To Cook Spanish Mackerel :
Average yield is 40%. Has a strong, distinctly ‘fishy’ flavour, medium to very high oiliness and medium-dry, firm flesh. The thin skin can be eaten, but it’s usually sold skinned and has few bones, which are easily removed. Score thick fillets at the thickest part of the flesh to allow even heat penetration.

Spanish Mackerel Cooking Methods:
Pan-fry, bake, grill, barbecue, smoke, pickle.

Spanish Mackerel goes well with:
Strong flavours, bay, basil, citrus, curry, garlic, mustard, onion, oregano, pepper, red wine, tomatoes, vinegar.

Other names:
Mackerel, macko, narrow-bar, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, snook, spaniard.

Spanish Mackerel Season:
Available year round with peaks from September to October.

Size and Weight:
The largest Mackerel, commonly 2-15kg and 55-125cm, but can grow to 50kg and at least 200cm.

Medium priced.

Spanish Mackerel Substitutes:

  • Other Mackerels
  • Bonito
  • Striped Marlin
  • Swordfish
  • Tunas.


  • Habitat : Saltwater – Caught in open water and near reefs
  • Flesh : Light pink to white
  • Thickness : Medium fillets
  • Texture : Medium to firm
  • Bones : There are only a few bones and these are easily removed.
  • Flavour : Strong Distinct “fishy” flavour
  • Oiliness : Medium to very High
  • Moisture : Dry to medium


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