Indian Mackerel
Whole Indian Mackerel [Alumahan (Philippine); Rastrelliger kanagurta]

This is a highly commercial Indo-West Pacific mackerel found from the Red Sea and Madagascar to Samoa, these fish can grow to over 13 inches, but photo specimen was 9 inches and weighed 5-1/4 ounces. This fish is not considered threatened and is sold fresh, frozen, canned, dried-salted, smoked and made into fish sauce. It has just enough scales to be kosher.

More on the Mackerel Family.


Cut collar
Cut behind collar

Cut backbone
Cut the backbone

Cut off skirts
Cut off skirts

Pull ribbs
Pull all ribs

Fried & draining
Fried crisp and draining

Pull fins
Pull the fins

Serve whole or . . .
Cut collar
Remove fillets


This is a fairly meaty fish with fairly light flesh that is milder than most mackerel, but definitely could not be called "fish lite". There is a substantial streak of dark meat under the skin along the lateral line. The flesh stays firm for all methods of cooking but breaks up easily on the plate into large flakes. My favorite way to enjoy these is to fry them with a light powdering of rice flour and eat with a simple sauce. The flavor of the flesh works well fried.

Small bony fish like this take a little special handling to be easily edible and not take too much time to prepare. The instructions below will produce good results with minimum effort. They will also work with other small bony fish.

Buying:   This fish is particularly available from Philippine markets, both on ice and dried. 2014 US $1.99 / pound.

Scales:   As with most mackerels, this one has only a few scales right behind the gill covers, just enough to be kosher. They scrape off easily.

Clean:   Nothing unusual here. You won't be using the heads, so no need to pull the gills.

Skin:   As with other mackerels, the skin is too thin and delicate to remove. Leave it on for all methods of cooking. It's flavor is stronger than the light flesh, but milder than the dark. It has no significant shrink during cooking.

Yield:   A fish weighing 4-1/2 ounces uncleaned will yield 2 oz of skin-on fillet (44%).

Stock:   The heads, bones and fins of this fish are a bit too storngly flavored to make a good stock. Discard them.

  1. First scale and clean the fish the normal way. The method is on our Cleaning & Filleting Round Fish page (even though this fish is a bit flat).
  2. Make a cut to the backbone behind the collar on both sides.
  3. Use your kitchen shears to cut through the backbone.
  4. Use your kitchen shears to cut off the skirts diagonally (there's little meat there anyway).
  5. Find all the rib bones, full length or cut short with the skirts, and pull them out with your long nose pliers. You can easily find them with a finger tip, and they pull easily.
  6. Options:   At this point you could fillet the fish if you desire, they fillet easily - or you can follow the steps here and fry as pan dressed. You could also poach, steam or bake the pan dressed fish instead of frying, but the fins are then a more trouble to pull out because they fall apart. If you will use the fish in soups or stews, definitely fillet, or the fins will fall apart and be very unpleasant.
  7. Lightly powder with rice or wheat flour and fry (rice flour is lighter in taste and browns lightly). Deep frying is easiest but you can pan fry them in about 1/8 inch of oil. If you pan fry, you can finish brown them by stand them upright, they'll have spread out so they'll stand up. Drain on paper toweling.
  8. Pull the fins, full length, from both top and bottom. This removes all the most pesky tiny bones and just leaves a groove where the fins were.
  9. Serve whole if desired. It's easy to eat the flesh off the main bones.
  10. Optionally, you can remove the fillets. They'll come off intact, very easily and be entirely bone free.
  11. Warn your guests to watch for bones anyway, just to be safe.
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