Canned Fish is a Superstar I: Jack Mackerel (Capellini and Fishcakes)

Please, there is no reason to pretend. I know what you are thinking…I’m in love with canned fish too…

First in a series of posts about the wonders of canned fish.

Each can of jack mackerel (costing $1.29 ~ $1.79) yields a lot of protein (and omega-3‘s). I have no idea why they are so inexpensive but I definitely appreciate it. Scroll down for inexpensive preps of this fine fish: Jack Mackerel Cappellini (extremely fast), and Jack Mackerel Cakes (not as fast, but very nice!).

Jack Mackerel Cappellini

  • 2 oz. of dry, whole wheat cappellini (angelhair); (1 lb of Full Circle = $1.59 / 8 = $.20);
  • 3 or 4 frozen brussel sprouts (12 ~ 14 oz for $.87 / 6 = = $.15) ;
  • 1/2 of canned jack mackerel filet ($1.29/6 = = $.22);
  • olive oil (pennies);
  • sea salt (I used Whole Foods 365 brand…can’t remember now what it costs, but, it was such a steal!);
  • and pepper (pennies).

Boil and drain the pasta. Flake the mackerel, and mix it with the hot pasta, olive oil, pepper. Salt to taste – the fish is not salty, but contains salt. Microwave the Brussels sprouts for 2 or 3 min, halve them, and toss with everything else. It’ll be very nice (and about $.60 for this serving). I promise!

Jack Mackerel Cakes

Heritage Recipes has a simple, simple, simple recipe for Jack Mackerel Cakes. Three ingredients: 1 can of jack mackerel ($1.79 for the BumbleBee brand), cornmeal (I mixed polenta and cornmeal in my version because…the polenta was there…about $1.00/lb, and I used less than 1 cup…about $.50 worth), and 1 egg (I think I used a jumbo, probably $0.16). Makes seven huge cakes, as the recipe says (about $.35 apiece) . Took pictures of my process. Enjoy! I served this with a ketchup/Worcestershire sauce (to approximate a tonkatsu sauce). My dines were very very happy. The recipe works so great – this was my first time trying it, and I got rave reviews!

Update (03/20/08): I’m just adding a link I found in askmetafilter, about eating fish more frugally.


58 responses to “Canned Fish is a Superstar I: Jack Mackerel (Capellini and Fishcakes)

  1. It is so good, I can eat it all day as snack.

    Wonderful recipe!

  2. I’m so glad you liked it!!!

  3. This looks fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing it. I am definitely going to try it. I wonder, for a change if canned salmon would work well with this recipe too, as well as other types of canned fish? I am a fan of the slow cooker and looking for fish and organic-type recipes. So far this was the best one I found~ Thank you again!

    • I learned this recipe from my grandma and you can use undrained canned tuna or salmon for this recipe too. I like to add a bit of diced onion and maybe some celery and bell pepper to the patties too, and almost forgot, garlic too… and I make up a topping or dip… use plain yougurt with a bit of prepared mustard and green onions or diced onion and some dill weed. There are so many things u can do with these patties and they are good.

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  6. Jack Mackerel has disappeared from the grocery stores here in Sacramento, CA. I asked the manager of my supermarket and he didn’t know why. Anyone know?

  7. That is a real shame! It’s not quite as standard as tuna, but still! Usually the markets carry a can or two around. Is that happening in all the supermarket chains?

  8. Thanks for sharing the photos!

  9. Oh, it’s my pleasure! I’m so glad I found that recipe on your wonderful website!!!

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  11. Mackerel’s disappeared from all the stores here in Florida, too. It’s been my protein staple for the past 8 years or so. I do some travelling for work and have checked stores in surrounding towns on the way through and they’re all out. They have the spot for it on the shelf, but aren’t getting any stock coming in. I’m in the Ocala area.

  12. That is very odd – I wonder if demand is falling, or what’s the deal??? It’s a great fish, so, I’m very sad to hear that it’s disappearing from the shelves. any favorite recipes, and, what are you using to substitute for jack mackerel?

  13. I’ve been looking for months for Mackerel but can’t find any in central illinois either. Wonder if they took it off the shelves due to mercury content???

  14. Yeah, I just noticed it is missing from my local supermarket too…what a bummer!

  15. Thanks for this great recipe – I was looking for something new to do with my canned mackerel, and it just so happened I had some polenta in my kitchen at the time too!
    I am not ashamed to admit my love for canned fish. Mackerel in particular is a great bargain.
    The cakes are great.

    I got a few cans off the shelf in NYC back in early October. I hope it is still available here.

  16. I finally found some jack mackerel in the Baker City Oregon Safeway store. I gave up looking for and asking for it at the
    Albertson store across the street. So today I’m celebrating my find. And I do hope you don’t all beat a path to this Safeway store to buy out my goodie! None of the clerks in the Albertson
    had even heard of Jack Mackerel, by the way.

  17. On one of my dog lists the members were also bewailing the lack of Jack Mackerel, which (along with canned salmon & sardines) makes a happy & healthy addition to doggie dishes once a week or so. It’s missing in a lot of places, but several people said they could only find it in Walmart. I just found some in my local Kroger supermarket here in Atlanta — on the can it says it comes from Chile.

  18. I can find it in many stores around here, South suburbs of Chicago. Also found it out West in Mendota, IL. Seemingly, most of your discount type of stores have it like Walmart, Save-A-Lot, Food 4 Less, Aldi, etc.

  19. In La Salle, IL, I don’t find fresh, whole Boston mackerel to broil or bake as comfort food, so I use Jack Mackerel, often eating it out of the can with vinegar/salt or KC BBQ sauce. Yum!
    Save-A-Lot has discontinued it, Wal-Mart has it. ($1.76 Bumble Bee [product of Chile]) Look hard, it only has 2 facings at the end of a shelf, but there’s 23 kinds of tuna & salmon!! 😉
    Aldi has SeaNet label–WILD CAUGHT vs. farm-raised ($1.29 [product of Thailand])
    My feeling is that it’s a matter of salability or profitability – if Wally World can get it, so can your local store’s supplier. It also could be weather-related suply & demand, but I doubt it.
    Good Luck, all!

  20. Great post. How long have you been blogging for? It makes me realise that I need to improve mine a bit! Restaurant in Ilfracombe

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  22. I grew up on mackerel cakes and its usually the save-a-lots and discount stores that sell it. Also, i’ve found a trillion different brands in the local asian supermarket! Cheaper than wal-mart! I would give that a try. And gotta love canned fish. I’ve found Sardines cost an arm and a leg at walmart and are near nothing in the Asian market…

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  24. tasted great

  25. why you people can not find jack mackeral. first of all, it is put out by chicken of the sea imported from thailand. i found it in hte dollar stores but chicken of the sea do a google on it and you will find a ton of recalls on their products!! that is why

  26. Got mine at wal mart

  27. A couple of things got me to speak up here – first of all I wish to thank the author for sharing this great info……Thanks !
    (My search was inspired by finding the mackerel at the dollar store – buying a can – then wondering what I’ll make with it ! Now I know.)

    The above-mentioned recalls seem to have been ALL for canned tuna BTW, I just searched it, and yes, they recalled a bazillion cans of TUNA in July; but mackerel ? Nope.

    And as an aside – eating ocean products from over-fished and polluted oceans, well, what can we as a species expect from that ? Them fishies gotta eat too, and they don’t know when they is nibblin’ on garbage (or worse…) now do they ???
    I am no eco-freak, but there’s enough info about islands of garbage in the oceans that anyone can easily see what I meant above; not as a gross-out, but just as a matter of fact.
    It is the world we live on, so deal with it !

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  29. this is a stupid question, I’m sure…but I have no experience dealing with canned fish and since we have so much of it down here (Chile) for not much money, I thought I would give it a try…my only concern are the bones. There are so many of them. Some recipes I’ve seen say to take them out others say to leave them in–any thoughts on this? Your recipe looks the best and I want to try it, but I won’t open the can until I know what to do with the bones…

    I told you, stupid question! Yes, there are such things. 🙂

  30. can you substitute the cornmill with anything such as flour or breader?

    • Haven’t tried flour or breadcrumbs myself. Try it and let me know how it turns out! My guess is that flour won’t cook inside the fish patty but breadcrumbs will probably do just fine – I’ve seen that in other crab/salmont/seafood cake recipes.


  31. What is “jack” mackerel? Is it different from the little cans of “extra small mackerel fillets” I found at the discount store?

    • I can tell you that “Jack” Mackerel is just a brand name. Any canned mackerel will do I’m sure as long as it’s not canned in any sauce. The mackerel I have comes in 15oz cans, so keep that in mind when substituting. Happy cooking!

      • Jackmackerel is a different species of fish, not a brand. They are a similar size and possibly similar flavor, but not related to each other. Check the ingredients list, it should say Trachurus symmetricus.

        Also jackmackerel is one of the only “underfished” species in the world, so eat as much as you like, they won’t be going extinct anytime soon!.

  32. Do you know if it is possible to bake/broil these patties? I’m sure they won’t be as tasty but right now, all I have is a microwave and toaster oven.

    I haven’t looked for it @ the store lately so I hope it’s still available.

  33. I didn’t read all of these post- but I live in Ohio, and just got back from Big Lot’s- they had a very large supply of canned Makerel (chicken of the sea, in water) $1.00 a can. Thanx so much for the recipes, I have never tried makerel, but am looking foward to it!!

  34. Making some right now.. can’t wait!

  35. Use cooked potato for the binder instead of cornmeal. Or use uncooked oatmeal. Add breadcrumbs, if you want, to the potato mixture, for more stability. Flour is not a good idea.

    Check the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Fisheries section, for lots of valuable and interesting information about all things “fishy” in the U.S. (Such as what’s edible, over-fished, plentiful, endangered, etc.).

    Keep asking for mackerel in your local stores and get friends to do the same. Pretty soon, they should stock because of the demand. Good luck!

  36. I’m in the Pacific Northwest and have tried to find canned mackerel in 3 of our grocery stores. Have only found it at WalMart.

  37. My theory on the case of the disappearing jack mackerel. They probably took it out of the stores because nobody buys it! Shelf space can be at a premium when there is new product showing up every day. I buy it probably once every few years! lol Groceries aren’t running a fish museum, so if it looks like there isn’t much interest in something in their inventory, they don’t replace it once it finally sells out.

  38. I found it in a “Dollar Tree”. Neither Albertsons or SaveMart had it. I ordered a fresh Mackerel from the butcher, but because of the snow couldn’t get in for two days (late) and someone nabbed it!!! If I like your recipe (I have some polenta, too), I’m going back for a bunch more. You can’t beat a buck a can! And, it is one of the healthiest fish to boot.

  39. I used to never like fish when i lived with my Aunt she cooked these all the time i could never get over the smell as time went on my taste buds got curious and i tore into them, now I love them I never understood why she cooked them so much , as I have grown older I understand the importance of the all mighty dollar this little can goes a long way I went online to find out exactly how much of what went in some add egg others don’t I do I never knew exactly how much corn meal I used flour now i know why mine tasted not exactly right the flour makes them doughy I also want to add that I bought a can of the Chicken under the sea brand Mackerel it said it was a 15oz can well it was mainly fish flavored water my mom said my grandmother always used Jack Makerel with the red Label my advice to those who like fish don’t buy Chicken under the sea they need to stick to Tuna . thanks for the Recipe. P.S I know this sounds funny but if you don’t like The Bones in the Makerel I have used Tuna for these Patties just expect to spend a little more money

  40. Hi. I live in Freeport NY, and my local COMPARE supermarket has plenty of Jack Mackerel. A few different brands, too. This is a very Hispanic area, so maybe you should try to find it in a Hispanic area near where you live. good Luck!

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