What Does Mackerel Taste Like?

If you type “Mackerel” into a search engine, it’s likely the next word to be suggested is “fishy”. So is mackerel really deserving of this association?

Mackerel is an oily fish. It has a buttery and robust flavor, with a slightly sweet finish, similar to salmon.

What Gives Mackerel Its Fishy Reputation?

Like many fish, Mackerel is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. While these fatty acids are essential to heart health, they often cause fish to develop a strong “fishy” flavor or odor when not eaten fresh. For this reason, raw fish has a much lighter and less-fishy flavor than its cooked counterparts. 

Health Benefits of Mackerel 

Though there is a degree of wariness surrounding fish due to fears over mercury levels, there are several health benefits of incorporating mackerel into your diet:

  • Compared to other fish, mackerel contains very low levels of mercury. 
  • Mackerel is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which play a pivotal role in maintaining heart health. 
  • Mackerel is packed with protein, offering over 20 grams in a single filet. 
  • Mackerel has high levels of antioxidants, specifically selenium, containing over 75% of your recommended daily requirement. 

With the low mercury levels and various benefits, mackerel in moderation makes a great addition to any diet. 

Can Mackerel Be Eaten Raw?

Yes, mackerel can be eaten raw; it is commonly used in sushi. Eating mackerel raw is the best way to experience the full spectrum of flavors present in the fish. However, in an effort to avoid foodborne illness, remember always to ensure that any fish you intend to eat raw is of the highest quality and utmost freshness. 

How to Know if Mackerel is Fresh

There are specific characteristics to look for when determining the freshness of any fish, and mackerel is not excluded. A few markers of a fresh fish are:

  • Shiny, bright skin devoid of dull-looking spots or discoloration.
  • Firm flesh that bounces back into shape if pressed.
  • Clear eyes that do not have a sunken-in appearance. 
  • If you can touch the fish before purchasing, run your hand along it to see if any scales detach. Fresh fish’s scales will remain connected when performing this test. 
  • Healthy, vibrant red gills without any slime or dark discoloration. 

Fish are a tasty and healthy source of essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, but ensuring its freshness is of the utmost importance. 

What Can I Use Mackerel In?

Mackerel has a flaky tuna-like texture that lends itself well to grilling, stewing, frying, baking, smoking, or any other process you would normally use to cook your proteins. When fresh and of  a high quality, it can be eaten as sushi or sashimi, and most stores sell canned mackerel that you can use instead of tuna in a tuna salad. 

Final Thoughts

Mackerel is an oily fish with a robust flavor and a light sweet finish. If fresh and of a high grade it can be eaten raw; otherwise it can be cooked similarly to any of your favorite proteins and will have a flaky texture. Though mercury is often of concern regarding fish consumption, mackerel has low mercury levels and various health benefits.