Discover the simplicity and elegance of Saba Shioyaki, a salt-grilled mackerel dish. This classic Japanese dish is surprisingly easy to prepare at home, with unique but subtle flavors of sake and salt.
Salt Grilled Mackerel, or Saba Shioyaki, is a wonderfully simple seafood dish often served as an entree or part of a bento combination in Japanese restaurants across the United States. And while many people have probably tried it at a restaurant, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn how easy it is to make at home. Just 25 minutes, and you have an elegant, delicious Japanese dish, served over steamed rice.
DECODING SABA SHIOYAKI
The nomenclature of the dish, Saba Shioyaki, is derived from two Japanese terms: Saba translates to mackerel and Shioyaki refers to salt (shio) and grilling (yaki). Indeed, salt is the sole seasoning required for this dish, drawing out the naturally robust flavors of the mackerel. This minimalist approach to seasoning is not to be underestimated, however, and we offer some advice on how to make sure your fish comes out perfectly a little further down.
Sake, or Japanese rice wine, is a staple ingredient in many Japanese recipes. For the Grilled Mackerel, sake is utilized to:
- Add umami to the dish
- Tenderize the fish
- Produce a “plump” texture (termed “Fukkura” ???? in Japanese)
- Counteract any potential fishy aroma
- In this recipe, salt serves a dual purpose: not only does it season the mackerel, but it also helps extract water from the fish and neutralizes any undesirable odors.
- For optimal results, the mackerel should be salted and allowed to rest for 20 minutes. This timeframe is critical: too brief a rest may result in insufficient salt absorption and persistent odor, while a prolonged rest can cause the flesh to tighten and lose its texture.
Shannon's kitchen is her playground and creative outlet, where she loves to experiment with recipes. As a Malaysian, her food influences are mainly Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine but her curiousity in other culture lead to cross cultural cooking. On her blog JustAsDelish.com, she pursue her mission in creating healthy and delish food.