Fish & Seafood/ Jamaican/ Main Dishes & Entrées/ Quick, Easy & Under 30

Jamaican Style Mackerel Recipe in Tomato Sauce

December 20, 2023 (Last Updated: March 2, 2024)

Learn how to cook fresh mackerel Jamaican style with this easy recipe. Tender mackerel simmers in a rich tomato-based sauce enhanced with herbs, peppers and aromatics for a fresh, flavourful meal in just 30 minutes!

jamaican style mackerel in tomato sauce.

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Learn how to cook fresh mackerel Jamaican style with this easy recipe. Tender mackerel simmers in a rich tomato-based sauce enhanced with herbs, peppers and aromatics for a fresh, flavourful meal in just 30 minutes!

Want to try more delicious Jamaican fish recipes? Try Ackee and Saltfish, Brown Stew Fish and Jamaican Escovitch Fish next!

jamaican style mackerel in tomato sauce in pot.

Fresh Mackerel Recipe

The salty taste of mackerel complements the tanginess of fresh tomato sauce, creating a tantalizing mixture of flavours. Whether you enjoy it over a bed of steaming rice, mixed into pasta, or as a topping for crusty bread, mackerel in tomato sauce is a delicious option for an easy weeknight dinner.

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Mackerel Recipe

  • Budget Friendly: Mackerel is cheap when compared to other fish and the other ingredients are simple and easy to access. You can easily use whatever fresh produce you currently have in your fridge.
  • Easy Stovetop Recipe: Fish cooks quickly. After sauteing the aromatics, you make an easy tomato sauce and let the flavors meld together in the pot.
  • A Healthy Meal: Mackerel is rich in protein and Omega-3.
mackerel in tomato sauce.

What is mackerel?

Mackerel is an oily fish known for its rich flavour. This affordable fish is a popular choice for grilling, smoking, or canning. Some common species of mackerel include Atlantic mackerel, Pacific mackerel, and Spanish mackerel.

What does mackerel taste like?

Mackerel is rich, oily, and very flavourful. It is not as “fishy” tasting as other fishes. It’s salty and savoury with a subtle sweetness and firm flesh. Fresh mackerel, like the one used in this recipe, is mild in comparison to canned mackerel, which usually has a deep concentrated flavour.

What is the best way to eat mackerel?

The best way to cook mackerel is by pan frying it on the stovetop. It cooks in about 10 minutes and yields crispy skin. Jamaican mackerel is then simmered in tomato sauce for amazing flavour and tenderness.

mackerel in tomato sauce.

Mackerel Health Benefits

With this recipe, you get something delicious that’s also good for you too!

  • Improves Bone Health: Mackerel is a good source of vitamin D and phosphorus, both of which are important for bone health. These nutrients contribute to the absorption of calcium and the maintenance of strong and healthy bones.
  • Reduces Inflammation: The omega-3 fatty acids present in the fish have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body and may help manage conditions such as arthritis.
  • Improves Heart Health: The omega-3 fatty acids in mackerel contribute to cardiovascular health by helping to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and prevent the formation of blood clots.
  • Rich in Omega-3: These fatty acids are essential for heart health, reducing inflammation, and supporting brain function.

What’s Needed to Make This Mackerel Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)

  • Large Skillet or Dutch Oven: Use this to cook the mackerel and prepare the sauce.

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

  • Fresh Mackerel: Cleaned, head and tail removed (optional), and cut into pieces.
  • Vegetable Oil: Use this or another oil with a high smoking point as your cooking oil. Use a portion of the oil from frying the fish to saute the aromatics.
  • Onion: Finely chopped.
  • Garlic: Minced.
  • Sweet Bell Pepper: Use any colour you prefer and chop them. These sweet, juicy peppers add color and flavour. You can use grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper: Add as desired for a spicy quality.
  • Thyme: This lightens the salty flavour of the fish for a balance of taste.
  • Tomatoes: Use finely chopped or crushed tomatoes.
  • Seasoning: Use salt and pepper to taste, and all purpose seasoning (a savoury blend of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder).
  • Fresh Herbs: Use whichever herbs you prefer for garnish.

How to Make Jamaican Mackerel in Tomato Sauce

Prep Fresh Mackerel

  1. Check to ensure fish has been properly scaled, fins removed and gutted. Then thoroughly rinse with lemon or lime and cool water. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Season both sides of the fish with salt, black pepper and all purpose seasoning, then set aside.

Jamaican Mackerel Recipe in Tomato Sauce

  1. Using a large, non-stick skillet, heat cooking oil over medium high heat. Add fish fillets and fry for a few minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Do not flip until it can freely move (a crisp exterior should have formed on the fish). Remove fish from oil and place on wire rack to drain excess oil; set aside.
  2. Discard oil, leaving about 2 (two) tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Return to the stove, and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, bell peppers, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper and sauté until softened and fragrant.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes sauce heats through, breaks down and the mixture becomes aromatic and begins to simmer then thicken.
  4. Gently add the seared mackerel back into the pan, ensuring the pieces are coated evenly with the sauce. Simmer for an additional few minutes, allowing the flavours to meld, sauce to thicken and the mackerel to heat through. Adjust seasonings if needed. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with steamed rice or Jamaican Hard Dough (Hardo) Bread.

Recipe Substitutions and Tips

  • Canned Mackerel: Although I prefer fresh fish, you can use canned mackerel if that’s what’s available. Rinse the mackerel to remove the brine before cooking. It’s already cooked so lightly saute then remove it from the pan. Add it back in during the last 5 minutes of cooking the tomato sauce.
  • Spicy: Use habanero peppers as a substitute for scotch bonnet peppers. Want just a kick of heat? Add red pepper flakes instead of scotch bonnet.
  • Veggies: To make this dish even more nutritious, add produce like spinach, kale, broccoli or zucchini (whatever vegetables you have in the fridge that you need to use up).

Serving Suggestions and Tips

Mackerel Recipe Notes and Tips for Success

  • After rinsing and deboning the mackerel, pat dry the fresh mackerel before cooking. Removing excess moisture helps achieve a crispy exterior.
  • Never add fish to a cold skillet. Heat a skillet or pan over medium-high heat with a bit of oil. Mackerel benefits from a hot cooking surface to develop a nice sear and crispy skin.
  • The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the fish.
mackerel fillets simmering in tomato sauce.

Can I Make this Mackerel Recipe Ahead of Time?

Yes. When properly stored, Jamaican mackerel lasts up to 4 days so you can definitely made this one day in advance.

Storage Instructions

  • Allow the mackerel in tomato sauce to cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. Then, place the mackerel in an airtight container or cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.

Reheating Instructions

Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stove over medium-low heat.

jamaican style mackerel in tomato sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Mackerel Recipe

What goes best with mackerel?

Mackerel is a flavourful fish that pairs well with steamed white rice. Jamaican mackerel simmered with tomato sauce works especially well with rice and bread for sopping up the sauce.

Can you eat mackerel out of the can?

Canned mackerel is ready to eat straight out of the can.

Is canned mackerel healthy?

Canned mackerel retains the nutrients found in fresh mackerel. It is a nutritious complete protein that includes a number of vitamins and minerals. It is recommended that oil fish is consumed once a week as part of a healthy diet.

What does mackerel in tomato sauce taste like?

The richness of the mackerel and the acidity of the tomato sauce is a delicious balance of flavour. This dish is savory and slightly sweet with tangy notes.

Interested in more Seafood Recipes? Check These Out!

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jamaican style mackerel in tomato sauce.

Jamaican Mackerel Recipe in Tomato Sauce

Taneisha Morris
Learn how to cook fresh mackerel Jamaican style with this easy recipe. Tender mackerel simmers in a rich tomato-based sauce enhanced with herbs, peppers and aromatics for a fresh, flavourful meal in just 30 minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Fish & Seafood, Jamaican, Main Dishes & Entrees
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 451 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Skillet or Dutch Oven for cooking the mackerel and preparing the sauce.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds Fresh Mackerel cleaned, head and tail removed (optional), cut into pieces or filleted
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 med Onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1/2 Bell (Sweet) Pepper any colour, chopped
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper finely chopped or whole, as desired
  • 3 sprigs Thyme fresh
  • 1 can Tomatoes finely chopped or crushed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp All Purpose Seasoning
  • Fresh Herbs of your choice, for garnish, optional

Instructions
 

Prep Fresh Mackerel

  • Check to ensure fish has been properly scaled, fins removed and gutted. Then thoroughly rinse with lemon or lime and cool water. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Season both sides of the fish with salt, black pepper and all purpose seasoning, then set aside.

Jamaican Mackerel Recipe in Tomato Sauce

  • Using a large, non-stick skillet, heat cooking oil over medium high heat. Add fish fillets and fry for a few minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Do not flip until it can freely move (a crisp exterior should have formed on the fish). Remove fish from oil and place on wire rack to drain excess oil; set aside.
  • Discard oil, leaving about 2 (two) tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Return to the stove, and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, bell peppers, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper and sauté until softened and fragrant.
  • Add diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes sauce heats through, breaks down and the mixture becomes aromatic and begins to simmer then thicken.
  • Gently add the seared mackerel back into the pan, ensuring the pieces are coated evenly with the sauce. Simmer for an additional few minutes, allowing the flavours to meld, sauce to thicken and the mackerel to heat through. Adjust seasonings if needed. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with steamed rice or Jamaican Hard Dough (Hardo) Bread.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 451kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 47gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 1952mgPotassium: 1202mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 376IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 4mg

Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a star rating and a comment below! You can also tag @theseasoned.skillet and use #theseasonedskillet on Instagram!
Keyword(s) how to cook fresh mackerel jamaican style, jamaican mackerel, jamaican mackerel recipe, mackerel in tomato sauce, mackerel recipe, mackerel recipe Jamaican, simple mackerel recipes, whole mackerel recipes

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