Mako Shark


year round

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Identification & Biology: This species is deep blue-gray above, changing along the sides to a snowy white belly. Soon after death, these colors change to dark slate gray above and pale dirty gray below. Mako can reach 12 feet and 1,000 pounds, but more are 5-8 feet long.

Range & habitat: Mako sharks inhabit oceanic tropical and warm, temperate waters in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean. Off the East Coast, the Atlantic mako is most abundant in warmer areas, but moves northward to southern New England in the summer. One of the most active and swiftest-swimming of all sharks, the mako has the amazing habit of leaping out of the water when hooked. Its fighting ability makes it a superb game fish.

Market Description: The mako shark is one of the most popular sharks in Mid-Atlantic markets.Shark is similar in color, taste, and texture to swordfish. Both of these fish are sold in steak form. The skin of swordfish will feel smooth, while the shark skin will feel rough, like sandpaper. Raw swordfish is lighter in color than shark and has definite eye-like whorls, which are not present in shark steaks. The skin on a mako shark steak is thicker than that of a swordfish and has more connective tissue. A shark needs this thick skin in order to hold its body shape, for it has no bones.

Buying Tips:Sharks must be bled and iced immediately upon capture. The shark’s blood contains urea, a compound that helps maintain the animal’s body fluids. After the shark dies, bacteria break the urea down to ammonia, which can impart an off-taste to the meat. Do not use shark meat that smells strongly of ammonia.

Although it is not necessary, some people like to soak shark meat in a weak acidic solution to neutralize any ammonia that might be present. To do this, put the shark meat in a pan and cover it with cold water, adding one-half teaspoon of lemon juice or one tablespoon of vinegar for each pound of shark. Soak the shark for four hours in the refrigerator before cooking. Any shark that has been bled and iced immediately after capture will not need to be soaked.

Recommended Preparation: Shark is more versatile than many cooks realize. Typically, it is prepared in steak form by marinating then grilling, broiling, or sautéing. The skin may be left on, for it will lift off in one piece once it is cooked. If the center piece of bone-like cartilage is left in, it will also lift out easily after cooking.

Shark meat can also be skinned and cut into chunks and stir-fried, or you may poach the meat and use it in a salad. The flesh will lighten during cooking. As soon as the meat turns opaque throughout its thickness, it is done; cooking it until it flakes easily with a fork is overcooking. The thickness of your steaks is a matter of personal preference.