Jamaican Salt Mackerel Recipe / Pickled Mackerel

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A favorite in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean, some call it “pick up mackerel” because the fish is torn into small pieces after bones have been removed – perfect for “picking up” with your fingers.  The mackerel is “soaked” or boiled to reduce the salt, then cooked with onions, hot peppers, and ketchup which gives it the right “pickled” combination.


  • 1 lb. Mackerel
  • 1 medium sized onion (chopped)
  • 1 medium tomato (chopped)
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 2 sprig thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Ground pepper
  • Oil for cooking


  1. Soak or boil mackerel to remove most of the salt, drain.
  2. Cut up the onions, tomato and scotch bonnet (optional) and saute in a small bit of oil in a saucepan.
  3. Remove and place in a dish. Set aside.
  4. “Pick up” (break into small portions and remove any bones) the mackerel and fry in the same saucepan with light oil for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the sauteed seasonings (onions, tomato, scotch bonnet pepper) with ketchup and cook for 2-3 minutes. Please note scotch bonnet pepper is optional. Use more or less depending on your tolerance for spicy food.
  6. Serve with one of the following or combination of all: Jamaican water crackers, Fried Dumplings (Johnny Cakes),  Fired green plantains ,fried ripe plantains or White Yam, Boiled flour dumplings and boiled Bananas 

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