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King mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) are commonly called kings, kingfish, cavalla, carite and sierra. They are in the Family Scombridae- marine spiny-finned fishes such as tunas, mackerels and bonitos.


The king mackerel has a streamlined body, with a tapered head, and very small scales that cover the entire body except the pectoral fins. The color is iridescent bluish green on the back, lower sides and belly gray to silver, and the lateral line starts high near the gills and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin. The king mackerel weights range from five to thirty pounds. The maximum size about 75 to 90 pounds, but in the marketplace the average weight is five to 20 pounds.

See also: King Mackerel Recipes
King Mackerel

King mackerel are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters including the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Oceans. They inhabit coastal areas, usually in waters less than 240 feet deep and coral reefs, offshore currents, tide rips and large bays.

King mackerel are schooling fish that migrates from south Florida waters in winter too more northerly waters in the spring. They prefer water temperatures above 68 degrees F. The species is noted for its remarkable leaps, often clearing the water by 10 feet or more. King mackerel feeds mainly on surface-schooling fish such as, thread herring, sardine, shrimp and squid. They are commercially harvested by hook and line.


Moderate texture, dark meat with full flavor. Lean fish.


Spanish Mackerel, Tuna, Swordfish.


    • Whole or drawn fish: 3/4 to 1 pound per serving.

    • Dressed or cleaned fish: 1/2 pound per serving.

    • Fillets or steaks: 1/4 to 1/3 pound per serving.



Remember to purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home.

    Fresh whole fish should have:
    -- A shiny surface with tightly adhering scales.
    -- Gills that are deep red or pink, free of slime, mucus and off-odor.
    -- Clean shiny belly cavity with no cuts or protruding bones.
    -- A mild aroma, similar to the ocean.

    Fresh steaks, fillets and loins should have:
    -- A translucent look.
    -- Flesh that is firm and not separating.
    -- A mild odor, similar to the ocean.
    -- No discoloration.
    -- Packaging that keeps them from being bent in an unnatural position.


• Keep raw and cooked seafood separate to prevent bacterial cross-contamination.

• After handling raw seafood thoroughly wash knives, cutting surfaces, sponges and your hands with hot soapy water.

• Always marinate seafood in the refrigerator.

• Discard marinade; it contains raw juices which may harbor bacteria.

• When marinade is needed for basting reserve a portion before adding raw seafood.


• The general rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness, at the thickest part of the fillet or steak, at 400-450 degrees F.

• If fish is cooked in parchment, foil or a sauce, add 5 minutes to the total cooking time.

• Fillets less than 1/2 inch thick do not need to be turned during cooking.

• Fish cooks quickly. Do not overcook.

• Fish is done when the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork.

• Poaching, steaming, baking, broiling, sauteing, microwaving are excellent low-fat cooking methods, if you do not add high-fat ingredients.

• Marinate in your favorite salad dressing prior to cooking.

• Broil, bake, steam or microwave, then cube and add to pasta or salad greens for a delicious salad.

• Broil or grill with lime-butter and seasoned salt.

• Oil the grill to prevent fish from sticking.

• Bake whole fish with a crab or shrimp stuffing.

• Add leftover fish in broken pieces to salads, soups or sauces.


Nutritional values for approximately 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portions

    • Calories 120  
    • Calories From Fat 15  
    • Total Fat 2 g
    • Saturated Fat .5 g
    • Cholesterol 55 mg
    • Sodium 65 mg
    • Total Carbohydrates 0 g
    • Protein 23 g


For women of child-bearing age and small children there health hazards associated with mercury in King Mackerel.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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