Tired of sushi? Weary of pesto? Ready for the next "in" food? Try mackerel. That's right. The stuff old ladies buy in cans to feed their cats.

Mackerel, it seems, is very rich in eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA for short. EPA has been making medical headlines recently because of its reported ability to prevent internal blood clotting that can lead to strokes.

Greenland Eskimos, some scientists noticed a couple years back, consume a very high-fat diet and yet have a low rate of heart disease and stroke. It turns out that it's the kind of fat in the Eskimo diet--not how much--that gets to the heart of the matter.

Eskimos eat a lot of cold-water fish, such as salmon, cod and mackerel. These fish contain a certain fatty acid. This fatty acid reduces the blood cells' tendency to clump together and form a clot; that's the EPA.

And you don't have to be an Eskimo to reap benefits from these "fatty" fish. Studies done on Americans, Europeans and Japanese eating a mackerel diet report similar findings.

In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association recently stated, "Some think the day is not far off when capsules containing these fatty acids will--like vitamin capsules--take their place in American refrigerators."

Until then, if you want to have your steak and it eat too, a few mackerel meals interspersed may help ease your conscience, not to mention your budget.

Since mackerel, unlike cod, comes in cans, it's easy to stock up and make meals in a hurry. Salmon also comes in cans. But a 15-ounce can of mackerel costs 79 cents at Giant while a 15 1/2-ounce can of salmon ranges from $2.59 for the pink to $4.79 for the red. So for a dish like this easy quick stew, you might as well make it mackerel.

The inspiration for this dish comes from Louisiana, where the seafood stews are definitely spicy. Add to it a budgetary incentive, nutrition-consciousness and a hankering after laziness; it is a sure-fire dish that is tasty, healthy, economical, quick and easy.

It's so simple you can prepare it while holding a glass of wine in one hand. Spruce it up for company with a crusty loaf of bread and a tossed salad. This stew can feed six people quickly or see a working couple through most of the week (it stores and reheats well).

The mackerel gives the stew protein and essential fatty acids, while ample carbohydrates and fiber come from the fresh vegetables and rice. In addition to the mackerel's touted EPA, onion and garlic are reputed to also have beneficial effects on blood lipids. JACK MACKEREL STEW (6 servings) 3 tablespoons oil 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed 1/2 large onion, chopped 3 stalks celery, chopped 2 small zucchini, chopped 1 green pepper, chopped 1-pound canned whole tomatoes 15 or 16-ounce can jack mackerel 2 bay leaves Salt, pepper, cayenne to taste 4 cups cooked rice (preferably brown)

Heat oil in bottom of large pot or dutch oven over low heat. Add minced garlic or squeeze cloves through press held directly over pot. Add onions, pepper, celery and zucchini. Saute' over medium heat. When vegetables are bright and soft (about 5 minutes), add canned tomatoes. Gently break tomatoes with edge of spatula or wooden spoon and flatten. Stir. Heat through. Add mackerel. Break apart chunks and stir. Add spices. Turn down heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes. When rice is done, stir thoroughly into stew (mixture may also be spooned over rice). Serve piping hot.