Mackerel has long been one of the most underappreciated fish. The New York Times published a story by food columnist Marian Burros, placed prominently on the cover of its Wednesday “Dining In” section, “Holy Mackerel.”
The story-a paean to the health benefits and environmental friendliness of this terrific fish-began like this: “Like the shy kid at the dance whose charms are not readily apparent, unpopularity has kept some species (of fish) in circulation, waiting to be discovered. Atlantic mackerel wears its reputation like a pocket protector and horn-rimmed glasses, but a little attention reveals its sweet side.”
Mackerel live in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, But the Atlantic mackerel (also known as Boston mackerel) is preferred and the one I recommend (more on that in a moment). A relative of the tuna, the Atlantic mackerel is found in the Atlantic’s cold waters, where it forms large schools and can live up to an astonishing seventeen years. Before 1870, all mackerel caught in New England waters was salted on board and sold that way in Boston. Fresh mackerel is very perishable and has to be kept on ice or it develops a really fishy flavor.
Mackerel is a sleek, oily fish with a forked tail and contains two kinds of meat: the red outer meat and the light inner meat. You can get it canned, whole, as fillets, and as steaks. Pacific jack mackerel (also called horse mackerel) is often canned. Atlantic mackerel (also called Boston mackerel) is often used in sashimi, as is wahoo, a subtropical fish with a delicate flavor that is also known as ono and is a very close relative of the king mackerel. Spanish mackerel has only a small percentage of red meat and a milder taste than other kinds of mackerel. King mackerel (also called kingfish or cavalla) has a firm texture and distinct taste. Cera mackerel (also called cerro or painted mackerel), caught in waters along the coast of Florida, has leaner flesh and a more delicate flavor than most varieties. Pacific mackerel (also called American, blue, or chub) is an oily fish with a strong flavor.
Mackerel Low in Environmental Contaminants
One Of the reasons the New York Times article was so excited about mackerel is that in addition to being delicious and extremely healthy, the Atlantic version is on the list of “Best Seafood Choices” on the Oceans Alive Web site (Oceans Alive is a division of the Environmental Defense Fund). Not only is mackerel high in omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s also low in environmental contaminants.
According to the Oceans Alive Web site (www.oceansalive.org), Atlantic mackerel come from marine fisheries, not fish farms, are primarily caught with purse seines and trawls, and have relatively low “by-catch.” They can safely be eaten more than once a week. Three ounces of mackerel has roughly 2 0 g of protein and plenty of good healthy fat, though 208 The 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth there are some slight differences. Three ounces of Pacific mackerel has 6 g of monounsaturated fat and about 1112 g of omega-3, while 3 ounces of Atlantic mackerel contains 3 g of monounsaturated and a little more than 1 g of omega-3. But both are very good sources of the cancer-fighting trace mineral selenium, providing more than 50 percent of the Daily Value. And while Pacific mackerel has a respectable amount of vitamin B12 (60 percent of the Daily Value), the Atlantic variety is a Bl2 heavyweight, providing more than five times that amount.
Herring are very similar to mackerel nutritionally, though they taste a lot different and are usually prepared a completely different way. However, they too are loaded with good fat, protein, and vitamin B12.
Courtesy (150 Healthiest Food on Earth by Jonny Bowden)