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3 Unique Smoked Mackerel Recipes

Seafood Recipes

smoked mackerel recipes

Always up for a seafood challenge, I thought it would be fun to come up with some recipes that feature smoked mackerel beyond the realm of finger foods, dips, and light salads. That’s because most smoked mackerel recipes tend to be lighter fare, often served as appetizer dishes or as part of party platters. So I created what I think are three very unique, filling, and delicious smoked mackerel recipes!

The real purpose of these recipes, including my recent posts for bluefish recipes, black sea bass recipes, and grilled striped bass, is to showcase the undervalued, abundant, and sustainable fish here on the east coast.

These recipe posts are part of a 6-month collaborative program called the Massachusetts Seafood AmBASSadors and are sponsored by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and the Woods Hole Sea Grant Education Research Center. Funding is provided by the proud commercial fishermen of Massachusetts from permit fees at no additional cost to the fishermen via DMF’s Seafood Marketing Grant program. It’s also in conjunction with Eating with the Ecosystem, a New England-based non-profit working to expand awareness of and access to local New England seafood.

I’ll start with a little background info about mackerel but you can skip to any of the three smoked mackerel recipes by clicking on them here:

Smoked Mackerel Asian Rice Bowl
Smoked Mackerel Thai Fried Rice
Smoked Mackerel Chowder

Some Background Info About Mackerel

atlantic mackerel

Mackerel is an incredibly abundant species all over the planet. The most common species here in New England is the Atlantic mackerel. Once a mainstay in the diet of seafaring Atlantic communities, most Atlantic mackerel is now shipped overseas where it is still held in high esteem in many countries.

Its rich, oily, sweet meat, high in omega-3s, is unlike any other. It is so universally pleasing in taste that it’s hard to understand why it’s disappeared from our plates. Most small, plentiful fish, like herring and butterfish, have shared similar fates. That said, you can still find mackerel in markets, both in fresh and smoked form, though it’s certainly not in high demand anymore.

Besides the Atlantic mackerel, there are many other species of mackerel with the most popular ones being Spanish mackerel, Pacific mackerel, and King mackerel.

The Many Benefits of Mackerel

First, they’re abundant and sustainably fished and therefore are a much better choice than farmed fish like Atlantic salmon and overfished species like cod.

Second, like salmon, they’re oily fish, which means they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to our health, and which our body cannot manufacture on its own. Omega-3s must be consumed from dietary sources. Mackerel is also rich in B vitamins, minerals like selenium, and it’s a great source of protein.

And third, because mackerel is in low demand it’s a very affordable fish. In whole form, it’s one of the cheapest fish you’ll find in markets. In smoked form, it’s a little more expensive but still relatively cheap compared to other fish.

What is Smoked Mackerel?

smoked mackerel

Smoked mackerel is exactly what it sounds like. It’s cooked from exposure to smoke. Salmon, haddock, trout, and herring are commonly smoked as well. The hot smoke both cooks the flesh and infuses it with a wonderful smoky flavor. It also preserves the flesh as well as the natural oils and thus maintains its moisture and flavor.

Where to Find Smoked Mackerel

Most supermarkets will have tinned or canned smoked mackerel products. But the packaged products in the refrigerated section are typically fresher and better tasting. Ducktrap River of Maine is a popular choice here in the northeast.

Many fishmongers have smokers and will make and sell their own smoked fish products. Always try to support your local fishmongers first.

OK, on to the smoked mackerel recipes!

Smoked Mackerel Asian Rice Bowl

smoked mackerel asian rice bowl

This is probably my favorite recipe of the three. The thing I love about rice bowls is that there’s no right or wrong. It’s all about a good sauce or two, any protein you want, and all sorts of garnishes and seasonings. I focused on having each of the four classic flavors of Asian cuisine–salty, sweet, spicy, and sour–represented in one voluptuous bowl. That said, there are three key ingredients that need a little clarification.

1. Pickled vegetables

These are totally optional. But making your own pickled vegetables is a lot easier than it sounds. Onions, carrots, garlic, cucumbers, and radishes are common choices. I chose both red onions and cucumbers.

pickled vegetables

To pickle vegetables, all you need to do is marinate them in some rice vinegar and a little sugar for at least 20 minutes. They’ll take on a nice sour and subtly sweet flavor, perfect for a rice bowl topping. I used this common rice vinegar and coconut sugar. I did this first and then set them aside to marinate while I put together the rest of the rice bowl.

2. Furikake and Hot Crispy Oil

Yup, that may sound like a strange one. Furikake is a classic Japanese seasoning made of sesame seeds, dried seaweed, sugar, and sometimes other ingredients. I absolutely love Eden Foods Furikake Shake. I’ve become a little obsessed with it and use it in many other dishes like stir fries and salads. It adds a fantastic umami flavor and is a perfect seasoning for any rice bowl.

Here it is pictured on the left:

seasonings for smoked mackerel recipes

The one condiment on the right is another new obsession of mine. It’s called Hot Crispy Oil and it’s a blend of lightly fried garlic and shallots, chili peppers, and oil. It reminds me of many similar seasonings I had in my travels in Asia. It’s just the right amount of spice – hot but not too hot – with lots of flavor from the shallots and garlic. You can find it here on Amazon.

Here’s a little overhead view so you can get a clearer idea of what they both look like:

furikake and chili garlic paste
3. The Sauce

You could certainly use a store-bought sauce like soy sauce, teriyaki, or Korean gochujang. But I find the sauce is really key, especially one that has a nice balance of salt and sweetness. So I make my own with soy sauce, coconut sugar, a little sesame oil, and rice vinegar. You’ll see the exact ingredients in the recipe card below. The important thing is to adjust things to your personal taste.

Besides the rice and the smoked mackerel, here are all the ingredients you’ll need:

seasonings for asian rice bowl

Putting it All Together

Once you make the rice, the pickled veg, and the sauce, it all comes together very quickly! Here’s a quick little Instagram reel that I uploaded to YouTube:

Smoked Mackerel Asian Rice Bowl Full Recipe

Smoked Mackerel Asian Rice Bowl

Smoked mackerel, a classic sweet and salty sauce, pickled veggies, soft-boiled eggs and an assortment of seasonings and toppings make for creative, delicious, and nourishing Asian rice bowl recipe.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Craig Fear

Ingredients

  • 2 3-4 ounce smoked mackerel fillets cut in half or into smaller pieces
  • 2 cups jasmine rice, cooked preferably in a rice cooker
  • 2 eggs, soft-boiled

For the pickled vegetables:

  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onions and/or cucumbers and/or radishes
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • Pinch salt

For the Sauce:

Toppings and Seasonings:

Instructions

  1. To make the pickled vegetables, place the vegetables in a small bowl and mix with the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Marinate for at least 20 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Make the rice.

  3. To make the soft boiled eggs, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the eggs carefully with a slotted spoon, turn down the heat and simmer gently for five minutes. Remove from the water and run under cold water. Carefully peel the eggs and set them aside.
  4. To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer gently for about 4 – 5 minutes until it’s reduced and slightly thickened.
  5. To make the rice bowls, scoop the rice into individual bowls. Drizzle the sauce over the rice. Add the seasonings, in any order, in any amount desired, to taste. I like a generous amount of furikake and the chili garlic pasoil. Slice the soft-boiled eggs in half and place in the bowls. Place the smoked mackerel fillets in the bowls. Enjoy!

Smoked Mackerel Thai Fried Rice

smoked mackerel thai fried rice

Thai fried rice is a great way to use smoked mackerel. There are also some things to clarify about this smoked mackerel recipe.

1. You must use pre-cooked cold jasmine rice

Never use freshly cooked hot rice. It will turn mushy when you fry it. So make sure you’ve pre-cooked the rice and that it’s been chilled in the fridge. And needless to say, always use jasmine rice for Thai fried rice.

2. Scramble and cook the egg in the skillet or wok

This develops a better flavor than cooking the egg separately.

3. Classic Thai fried rice should include fish sauce, oyster sauce, and a little sugar.

But it’s OK to use soy sauce in place of fish sauce.

4. Always season, to taste

Thai fried rice recipes don’t always include spicy chiles. Add them at the end, either fresh chopped Thai chiles or as chile flakes, if you want a spicy version. Another great seasoning choice is a little drizzle of sesame oil. But you can season it any way you prefer.

Smoked Mackerel Thai Fried Rice

This recipe features classic Thai fried rice ingredients mixed with smoked mackerel

Course Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Craig Fear

Ingredients

  • 4 TBSPs peanut oil or sesame oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 6 ounces smoked mackerel sliced into small pieces
  • 2 green onions, green part only diced

For the Sauce:

  • 3 TBSPs fish sauce or soy sauce authentic Thai fried rice uses fish sauce
  • 3 TBSPs oyster sauce
  • 2 tsps coconut sugar another organic sugar substitute is fine

Garnishes and Seasonings, to Taste:

  • sliced cucumber rounds
  • sliced tomato wedges
  • fish sauce or soy sauce
  • Thai chiles or chile flakes
  • lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok. Add the garlic and onions and fry for about 1 minute, stirring frequently.

  2. Move the garlic and onion to the side of the skillet/wok, add the lightly beaten eggs, and scramble for about 30-60 seconds.

  3. Add the rice and the sauce. Mix well and stir fry for about 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Add the smoked mackerel and green onions. Stir fry for about another minute.

  5. Transfer to plates and add garnishes and seasonings, to taste.

Smoked Mackerel Chowder

smoked mackerel chowder

Yup, that’s a weird-looking one, isn’t it? Truth be told it’s a Smoked Haddock Chowder with a Poached Egg. It’s one of the 18 chowder recipes in my cookbook, New England Soups from the Sea.

And though it sounds (and looks) crazy, a poached egg in a creamy bowl of chowder is utterly fantastic. It’s just one of those things you have to try for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

For whatever reason, the flavors of smoked fish and a poached egg go together really well.

For this smoked mackerel recipe, simply substitute smoked mackerel for smoked haddock. You can find the recipe in my post for Smoked Haddock Chowder.

More Sustainable Fish Recipes to Try

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3 Unique Smoked Mackerel Recipes
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About the Author

Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.

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