King mackerel dressing balls

The Holiday Season begins at Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until time expires in February’s Super Bowl. You’ll have many opportunities to amaze your friends, family and co-workers with just how good king mackerel can taste.

The way kings have been biting this fall, you should have plenty in your freezer to make this several times and allow you to adjust the spices, amount of dressing, amount of fish or whether to bake it or fry it to get the perfect taste for you.

If you like fish with a little bit of flavor, you should like it as prepared here. If you prefer milder flavored fish, try it with dolphin, grouper, striper or catfish. The fish balls and dressing idea is unique and using king mackerel is special. Make it as special as you care to enjoy it.

Merry Christmas and my best wishes for health, happiness and prosperity in the New Year.

King mackerel Dressing balls

Credit for this recipe goes to Robert Cardwell of Stoneville, N.C.

Robert and his friends John Cruise and Curtis Bolick, travel to the N.C. coast regularly to catch king mackerel.

Robert was looking for an easy way to prepare kings that was as simple as marinating and grilling them. This isn’t quite that simple, but isn’t much more effort and it sure tastes good. It was Robert’s idea to mix the chopped king fillets with Pepperidge Farm dressing mix and see how it tasted. Most enjoyed the first version and he added some Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and some Old Bay seasoning the next time.

I added chopped sweet onions and jalapeno peppers, with a spoonful of minced garlic.

You need a few things, like the fish, stuffing mix, egg and mayonnaise, to bind it all together. After that, the option for spices is wide open.

When cleaning the fish, trim out all the dark meat, whether it’s red or brown/black. Once the fillets are clean, cut them into smaller pieces. The more thoroughly this is mixed, the better it will taste.

Chop the onion and jalapeno pretty well, but don’t mince them into oblivion. Some will take time to pick out the pieces of jalapeno.

The dressing mix will be a bit chunky, but is easily smoothed by placing in a bag, then rolling a rolling pin over it. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a pint jar works well too.


1 Pound king mackerel fillet

1 Large egg

1/2 Cup sweet onion

2 Fresh jalapenos

1 Baby Bok Choy

1/3 Cup stuffing mix

1/3 Cup mayonnaise

2 TSP Dijon mustard

2 TSP Worcestershire sauce

1 TBSP chopped parsley

1 TBSP Old Bay seasoning

1 TSP minced garlic

1 TSP coarse ground black pepper

1 TBSP peanut oil

Lemon and lime wedges, tartar sauce and dipping sauces for serving

Baking is one option for these treats, but frying is another good way to prepare them. (Picture by Jerry Dilsaver)


  1. Chop the king mackerel, onion, jalapenos, Bok Choy and parsley.
  2. Sprinkle the Old Bay seasoning on the fish.
  3. Beat the egg and slice the lemons and limes.
  4. Smooth out the chunks in the dressing mix.
  5. Sauté the onion, jalapeno, garlic and Bok Choy in the peanut oil until the onion glazes.
  6. Use a medium bowl and thoroughly mix the fish, stuffing mix, sauteed vegetables, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and pepper.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375.
  8. Cover a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
  9. Roll balls of the mixture to approximately ping-pong ball size and arrange them on the cookie sheet.
  10. Cook for approximately 20-25 minutes, being careful not to overcook.
  11. Remove the balls to a platter or serving tray and serve with lemon and lime wedges, tartar sauce and your favorite dipping sauces.

Extra tips

The dark pieces of meat are strong and can turn people off, so trim these. Once the fillets are clean, cut them into smaller pieces. The more thoroughly this is mixed, the better it will taste.

Most folks will like the onion, but some will take time to pick out the pieces of jalapeno. Leave those pieces large enough they’re easier to find.

I bake the balls, but they are excellent fried also. A deep fryer with peanut oil heated to just before smoking will be best for frying, but the balls could be cooked in a frying pan in a pinch.

You’ll need a few dipping sauces to accompany this. The one I like best is a simple sauce made by mixing a little Texas Pete Cha Sauce with mayonnaise. Sweet chili sauce is another good one and chipotle ranch dressing works well too. For those that favor flavor that isn’t quite so robust, Ranch dressing or Tartar sauce is a good start and Tzatziki sauce has a hint of dill and cucumber.

This will be a hit at parties, a bigger hit at functions for hunters and fishermen and especially good while watching the big game. Enjoy!

About Jerry Dilsaver 1170 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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