Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Japanese Shioyaki-style mackerel

This is a guest post written by Kathryn Grant, who has a knack for picking out exotic yet easy-to-cook recipes!

This is a quick version of 鯖の塩焼き (saba no shioyaki), or salt-grilled mackerel, served with cucumber pickle and toasted sesame seeds. This recipe serves 2 people.


For the cucumber pickle:

  • ½ cucumber, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 1 tsp cooking salt
  • 50 ml rice wine (or white wine) vinegar
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼–½ tsp chilli powder
  • 3 spring onions

For the grilled mackerel:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine (or white wine) vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 fresh mackerel fillets
  • Sea salt
  • Vegetable oil

For the rice:

  • 120-180 g rice (depending on hunger levels)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Sea salt

To serve:

  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • Lemon wedges
  • Finely sliced daikon radish or other radish (optional)


  1. Chop the cucumber and place in a bowl. Sprinkle 1 tsp cooking salt over the cucumber and leave for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the marinade ingredients together: vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sugar and chilli powder. Chop the spring onion. Once the 5 minutes is up, rinse the cucumber thoroughly with cold water to remove the salt, drain and place back into the bowl. Pour over the marinade, add in the spring onions, cover with clingfilm and set aside somewhere cool.
  2. Mix the marinade for the mackerel: soy sauce, vinegar and toasted sesame oil. Pour into a shallow dish. Wash the fish and place, skin-side up, in the shallow dish. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the grill to a high heat.
  4. Toast the black sesame seeds in the bottom of a dry pan for around 2 minutes, taking care not to burn them. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Shred the radish, if using.
  6. Boil a kettle of water. Heat 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil in a saucepan. Wash the rice thoroughly, until the water runs clear, then add to the saucepan. Fry for 1 minute, stirring continuously to make sure the rice does not burn. Cover the rice with water, season with a pinch of salt and simmer for approximately 12 minutes (check packet instructions).
  7. Whilst the rice is cooking, remove the mackerel from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle the non-skin side with sea salt and let the fish rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Prepare a tray for grilling: line a baking tray with foil and grease with about 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
  9. After the fish has rested, place onto the baking tray (skin-side down) and grill for 5 minutes until the fish is cooked. The skin should be crispy and surface lightly browned.
  10. Serve the cucumber pickle and rice sprinkled with the toasted sesame seeds. The excess cucumber marinade makes an excellent sauce for the rice. Serve the fish with lemon (or lime) wedges and shredded radish. The lemon/lime wedges really brings out the flavour of the fish.