[Salay-salay (Philippine); Atule mate]
This Indo-Pacific fish is found from the east coast of Africa to Hawaii. These fish can grow to nearly 12 inches, but the photo specimen was 8-1/2 inches and weighed 6-1/2 ounces. This is a minor commercial catch and is IUCN Red Listed NE (Not Evaluated).
More on the Scad Family.
This is a delicious fish. My favorite way to eat it is fillets lightly powdered with salted rice flour (needed to prevent sticking), pan fried in olive pomace oil, and served with my usual Lemon Wine Sauce sauce. If you have very small fish, see alternatives on our page for Yellowstripe Scad.
Buying: Like other scads, Yellowtail Scad is found mostly in Philippine fish markets. Here in Los Angeles we have one of those near every major hospital complex, because our health care system runs mainly on Filipino immigrants. The photo specimen was purchased at a large Philippine market in Eagle Rock, for 2016 US $2.99 / pound.
Scales: This fish has a modest number of very small scales up at the head end. They scrape off easily with no flying around.
Scutes: As with other "hard tail" fish, if you are going to leave the skin on, you must remove the strip of hard "scutes" along the lateral line near the tail. Make a shallow cut just through the skin on each side of the scutes for the straight part of the lateral line (the curved part is not a problem). Get the tip of your fillet knife under the strip at the forward end. Pull it up as you shave it off.
Cleaning: Larger fish can be cleaned in the normal manner. The gills are not hard to pull, but tend to break up - use your long nose pliers. If you aren't cooking the fish head-on, cut from the top of the head down behind the pectoral fin and around under the chin. Cut through the backbone with your kitchen shears and pull the head off. Cut the belly from the vent, forward to under the chin, or where the head was if you cut it off. Cut off the pelvic fins.
Fillet: You can fillet this fish quite easily, as it has a coherent, easy to follow bone structure. Remove the head and cut off the tail. Make cuts on both sides of the anal fins from the tail end forward to the body cavity. Cut down to the backbone, then over it at the tail to meet the bottom cuts. When you get forward to the rib cage, for small fish you can just pull the fillet off the ribs. For larger fish, cut the ribs from the backbone with kitchen shears and pull them from the fillet with long nose pliers. There are centerline pinbones that should be pulled out straight forward for the length of the body cavity. They are easy to find and easy to pull. Fillets are difficult to skin - best to leave the skin on.
Skin: The skin is thin and difficult to remove. It has significant shrink but poor adhesion. If pan frying, when you flip it skin side down, immediately push the fillet flat with your turner for a few seconds. It will remain flat. The skin is not much of a problem with poaching either.
Yield: The 6-1/2 ounce scad in the top photo yielded 3.19 ounces of skin-on fillet (49%), a pretty decent yield for a small fish, due to it's small head and light bones.
Stock: The head, bones and fins make a surprisingly clear stock which has a distinct but pleasant flavor and very moderate oil. Use your gravy separator to remove the oil. For details see our Making Fish Stock recipe.
This fish is also popular as Daing
(Philippine dried fish).