Florida Seafood Products
Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus) is a valuable sport and food fish caught off both of Florida’s coasts. It’s an open-water species that swims in vast schools and feeds on small fish, including herrings and sardines.
Spanish mackerel is a member of the Scombridae, a large family that consists of 55 species of mackerels, tunas, and bonitos. Thanks to their streamlined bodies, Scombrids are fast swimmers.
Spanish mackerel is slender and spindle shaped, with a pointed snout. Its back is iridescent blue green, and its sides are silvery with three rows of brownish or olive-green spots. Spanish mackerel is fast growing and usually weighs between eight and 11 pounds.
The species is highly migratory. In late summer and early fall, huge schools migrate southward to spend the winter and early spring along Florida's southern coasts. Spanish mackerel do not appear to move freely around the Florida Keys, so there are separate Gulf and Atlantic populations.
Spanish mackerel is an oily fish with a moderate texture and dark, full-flavored meat. A four-ounce serving of raw Spanish mackerel has 150 calories, six grams of fat, 23 grams of protein, and 1.1 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Spanish mackerel is easily filleted and tastes great baked, broiled, steamed, smoked, poached, or fried.
Look for these signs of quality when purchasing fresh mackerel steaks or fillets: flesh that is firm and not separating, a fresh sea-breeze aroma, and no discoloration. When you’re grocery shopping, purchase seafood last and keep it cold on the trip home.
Store fresh mackerel in the coldest part of your refrigerator (usually the lowest shelf at the back or in the meat keeper) at 32 degrees Fahrenheit for up to two days. To freeze mackerel, wrap it tightly to prevent freezer burn, write the date on the package, and store at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for up to six months. Thaw in the refrigerator or under cold running water.
Cook Spanish mackerel 10 minutes per inch of thickness at the thickest part of the fillet or steak at 400 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re cooking the fish in parchment, foil, or a sauce, add five minutes to the total cooking time.
Keep raw and cooked seafood separate to prevent bacterial cross-contamination. After handling raw seafood, thoroughly wash knives, cutting surfaces, sponges, and your hands with hot, soapy water.
More About Spanish Mackerel
- DACS-P-01414 Florida Seafood Healthy Facts Brochure (PDF)
- DACS-P-01549 Florida Seafood Buying Guide (PDF)
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