YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Fat Fish


Summer is the best season for eating oily fish that enjoy warmer waters, most commonly tuna and mackerel. Known almost solely in their canned versions only 10 years ago, fresh tuna and fresh mackerel are in abundance in our fish markets today.

Sushi bars may have been responsible for popularizing these colorful denizens of the ocean--the flesh is bluish for mackerel and pale to deep red for tuna. Their smooth, dense texture allows them to be sliced into paper-thin sheets.

They are also tasty. In fact, people who don't appreciate them claim that they are too tasty, that they're "fishy." And it's true; they have a strong character when overcooked. But they are much milder in flavor when served raw (frozen first to "cook" the fish) or slightly cooked. They possess a slightly salty tang and the taste of an ocean breeze.

TUNA TARTAR 1 3/4 pounds fresh tuna 16 anchovy fillets 1/3 cup capers, drained 1 tablespoon grated horseradish, preferably fresh 2 tablespoons grainy mustard 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley 2 tablespoons finely minced shallots 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 1 egg yolk 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Place tuna in airtight plastic food bag and freeze 2 hours. Thaw in refrigerator. Remove and discard any dark flesh. Finely chop remaining fish by hand.

Place 4 plates in refrigerator to chill.

Chop 12 anchovies together with capers and place in mixing bowl. Add horseradish, mustards, parsley, shallots and hot pepper sauce to taste. Add egg yolk (save egg white for another use) and lemon juice and mix well. Slowly beat in oil, mixing until absorbed. (Tartar mix may be prepared up to 2 hours in advance and kept in refrigerator to this point.)

Add tuna to mixing bowl and mix gently. Then, using 2 forks, mash fish with tartar mix to blend. Mound on chilled plates and decorate with remaining 4 anchovies. Serve immediately with accompaniment of warm toast or fresh dark bread. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 304 calories; 1,127 mg sodium; 152 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 43 grams protein; 0.08 gram fiber.

TUNA PROVENCALE 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 medium onions, finely chopped 3/4 pound potatoes, peeled, each cut into 6 to 8 pieces 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped 1/3 cup pitted Nicoise olives 1 1/2 pounds fresh tuna, cut into 2-ounce pieces 1/2 cup white wine 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons Pernod, optional 1 teaspoon fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried 1 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, tomatoes and olives and cook another 5 minutes.

Add tuna, wine, lemon juice, Pernod, oregano, salt and pepper to taste and mix together. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees 15 minutes or until desired doneness. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 381 calories; 720 mg sodium; 61 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 35 grams protein; 1.31 grams fiber.


Spain, with its proximity to both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, has a way of preparing fillets of mackerel and bluefish, called escabeche. A hot marinade of wine and vinegar is poured over the fish. They are left to cool slowly, then refrigerated for several days until the "pickling" is complete.

ESCABECHE OF MACKEREL OR BLUEFISH 1/3 cup olive oil 8 small unpeeled new potatoes, quartered 1 medium onion, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic 1 3/4 cups dry white wine 1/4 cup white wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper 2 sprigs fresh marjoram or 1 tablespoon dried 4 (7-to 8-ounce) mackerel fillets

Combine olive oil, potatoes, onions, garlic, wine, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and marjoram in large, heavy skillet. Cook, covered, over medium heat until potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile arrange fish fillets in single layer in glass dish. Pour potatoes and hot liquid over fish and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Then refrigerate 48 hours before serving. Serve escabeche well chilled. Accompany with green salad and crusty bread. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 640 calories; 454 mg sodium; 111 mg cholesterol; 40 grams fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 32 grams protein; 0.69 gram fiber.


More and more, Americans are taking fish home and cooking it on the grill. Fatty fish are particularly good for that--they absorb marinades well because of their oily flesh. And they don't easily fall apart or stick to the grill or pan.

ASIAN-STYLE GRILLED TUNA, BLUEFISH OR MACKEREL 3 tablespoons dry Sherry 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup mirin (rice wine) 3 tablespoons rice vinegar 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil 4 (7-ounce) tuna steaks or fillets of bluefish or mackerel 2 tablespoons oil

At least 4 to 12 hours before grilling fish, combine Sherry, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar and sesame oil in 2-inch-deep glass dish. At least 1 hour before cooking, add fish, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate to marinate.

Prepare grill or heat broiler. Meanwhile, remove fish from marinade and pat dry. Place marinade over medium-high heat and boil until reduced and thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into sauce boat.

When grill or broiler is hot, brush fish with oil. Place on grill or under broiler and cook, turning once, about 3 minutes per side under broiler, 1 minute or longer on grill. Serve with sauce on side. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 394 calories; 1.069 mg sodium; 60 mg cholesterol; 22 grams fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 39 grams protein; 0 fiber.

Los Angeles Times Articles