Spanish Mackerel

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Spanish mackerel a name sometimes applied to the chub mackerel (see mackerel) but of more importance as the principal English name for fish of the genus Scomberomorus. These are large fish, found in various tropical and semi-tropical waters around the world, especially in SE Asia and the Caribbean (but not at all in the Mediterranean), and in the southern hemisphere. They are greatly appreciated for their compact flesh and fine flavour.

The main species in the Indo-Pacific are:

  • S. commerson, the largest in SE Asian waters, is known also in Australia, as the narrow-banded Spanish mackerel (and providing great excitement for anglers in the region of the Great Barrier Reef). It is commonly just under a metre long but sometimes reaches almost 1.5 m (60"). The sides are marked by wavy vertical grey stripes, more noticeable on the lower part of the body.

  • S. guttatus, the spotted Spanish mackerel, is smaller and has three rows of roundish spots on its silvery sides. Its range extends from India to Japan. Its Australian counterpart, S. queenslandicus, the school mackerel, is very similar.

  • S. lineolatus, the streaked Spanish mackerel, is a little bigger than its spotted brother, and has rows of brownish spots on its sides, elongated so that they almost run into each other and form streaks.

  • S. niphonius, which Australians call spotted Spanish mackerel, is another species of the southern hemisphere; and so is S. semifasciatus, the broad-banded Spanish mackerel of N. and W. Australia.

  • S. concolor, the Monterey Spanish mackerel, is found in the NE Pacific.