Grilled Half-Dried Spanish Mackerel Fillet (Saba Shioyaki)

This month, Misako-sensei introduces a simple yet mouthwatering grilled fish dish using Spanish Mackerel Fillet. Called sawara in Japan, the kanji character for Spanish mackerel is a combination of “fish” and “spring.” As this implies, it is considered a spring fish, available starting in March.

Japanese people can actually enjoy this fish all year round, though, and the cold season makes it fattier and tastier. The fish has a soft, white meat that gives it a mild and elegant flavor grilled, simmered, or even fresh. As for its nutritional value, Spanish mackerel is full of protein as well as vitamins A, B2, and D and contains an abundance of potassium, which is known to control high blood pressure. The fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA & EPA. Enjoy this nutritious and scrumptious grilled Spanish mackerel at home.


(Serves 3-4 people)
– 2 fillets of fresh Spanish mackerel
– Some salt
– 1 lemon


1. Rinse mackerel under cold water and pat dry with paper towel to remove all excess moisture.

2. Cut each fillet into 3 pieces.

3. With a very sharp knife, make an X-shaped slit on the skin of each piece.

4. Sprinkle both sides with salt.

5. Line plate with paper towel and place fish skin-side up. WITHOUT covering, put in refrigerator overnight to dry.

6. Take fish out and place skin-side up on baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil.

7. Broil 6–8 minutes until skin is crispy and brown.

8. Serve with lemon.

Tip: Drying the fish overnight in the fridge makes the skin extra crispy and makes the flavor more intense when grilled. The Fish Club offers Spanish Mackerel Fillets that you can purchase and cook directly with no hassle – all fish are directly from the fishermen, and free from preservatives. 

Source: – this great website by Misako Sassa sensei teaches authentic Japanese cooking, focusing on simple, delicious, and healthy home-style cooking using seasonal and local ingredients.

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