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Saba Shioyaki Recipe (grilled mackerel)

Saba Shioyaki is grilled mackerel with salt, and it is a very common everyday kind of seafood dish in Japan.  It is a very simple dish, with a flavor that comes only from salt and the fish itself, but you never get tired of it.

Saba (mackerel) is widely caught in the sea near Japan.  Because the fish is abundant all year around, Saba is a great choice of fish for people on a budget, like most everyone.  Some types of Saba are in season in fall and winter, that means it has more fat and is more flavorful, but the quality of the fish is very stable any time.  That is why Saba always tastes good.  Especially today, frozen mackerel is available in many stores, even in the States.

Saba is a blue fish, and has firm and flaky meat. Blue fish is generally not that popular in the United States.  I don’t know why, but maybe because of the smell.  It is definitely an oily fish, and has more of a fishy smell because of the oil.  However, the oil contains very important nutrients such as DHA and EPA, and it is gaining popularity for its health benefits.  And, not only the nutrients, but Saba actually tastes very good!

It can be eaten as raw if it’s very fresh, and it is sometimes cooked in seasoned broth, but Shioyaki (grilled with salt) is the most basic way of cooking Saba.  If you have never had Saba before, this may be the great place to start.

Because we used a frying pan instead of using a fish grill, it is easy to clean too.  By covering the pan with aluminum foil, the only thing you do after cooking is throw away the foil.  No smell is left behind either. Easy, healthy, tasty – enjoy!

Saba Shioyaki Recipe (grilled mackerel)

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • a whole mackerel (2 fillets)
  • salt
  • 2" Daikon radish
  • soy sauce


  1. Cover a frying pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Grate Daikon radish, and set aside.
  3. Clean and fillet the fish or have your fish shop do it for you. Cut each fillet of mackerel in half. Sprinkle salt liberally on both sides of the fish.
  4. Heat the frying pan at medium heat, and oil the surface of the aluminum foil lightly. Place the fish skin side down on the pan. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, or until brown and cooked through.
  5. Plate the fish, then add grated radish on the side, and pour some soy sauce on the radish if you want.

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  • Alex
    January 13, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Hi, love grilled mackerel. haven’t tried to cook one at home yet. just wanna know does it matter what kind of oil I use? Also, some I tried were a little bit bitter. How can I avoid that?

    Thank you!