[Pacific Mackerel, Japanese Mackerel California Mackerel; Saba, Honsaba, Masaba (Japan); Scomber japonicus | Blue Mackerel, Southern Mackerel, Spotted Chub Mackerel; Gomasaba, Marusaba (Japan); Scomber australasicus | Atlantic Chub Mackerel; Scomber colias]
These three fish are, for all practical purposes, the same fish, occupying tropical to subarctic waters worldwide. S. japonicus and S. australasicus share the Indo-Pacific region and S. colias occupies the North and South Atlantic. S. japonicus, the most commercial of the three, grows to 25 inches and over 6 pounds but the photo specimen is 14-1/4 inches and 1 pound. Held in disrespect in North America for being strong flavored and oily, this fish is highly regarded in Japan (though Atlantic Mackerel (S. scombrus) is preferred). Sold fresh, frozen, salted, smoked and canned, these fish are not considered endangered. They are said to have a few scales and are kosher.
More on the Mackerel Family.
This is a dark meat fish with a high oil content and fairly strong flavor. The body cavity is quite long, the rib bones easy to remove and it bakes well. This makes it a good fish for stuffing. Many recipes for this fish originate in Indonesia and surrounding regions. It is also sold in sushi bars as "Saba", if Atlantic mackerel is not available.
Scales: There said to be a few small scales, just enough to be kosher, but I have yet to find them - apparently you have to be a hungry rabbi with a sharp eye.
Cleaning Nothing unusual here, but the body cavity is very long and you need to be careful not to dig into the tender flesh when scraping stuff out.
Fillet: This is an easy fish to fillet. Remove the head and cut down to the backbone from head to tail, then over the backbone at the tail and work forward until you get to the rib cage. Use your kitchen shears to cut the ribs from the backbone and pull them from the fillet with long nose pliers. They are barely embedded and will pull out easily. There are substantial centerline spines almost the full length of the fish, but they are easy to find in the soft flesh, pull them out straight forward.
Yield: A 1 pound fish yielded 9-1/4 ounces of skin-on fillet (58%).
Skin: Don't try to skin this fish - the skin is all that's holding that tender fillet together. The skin is thin, has very moderate shrink and isn't much stronger in flavor than the flesh. This fish can be baked whole without slashes in the skin.
Stock; Dark oily fish of this sort are not generally used to make stock (though some Indonesian stew recipes do cook the head along with the rest of the fish).