Grilled Mackerel Recipe

Grilled Mackerel

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A small change-up in our repertoire of recipes! This is a popular Japanese dish consists of four simple ingredients! Take a look at our grilled mackerel recipe.

There are grilled mackerel recipes from other Asian cuisines but its most commonly seen in Japanese restaurants.

The authentic name for this recipe is ‘saba shioyaki‘. In Japanese, saba means mackerel and shioyaki means salt (shio) and grilling (yaki).

As you probably guessed from the translation, salt is the main seasoning for this dish. Salt brings out the rich and natural flavours of the mackerel.

This rather simple recipe definitely packs a punch when it comes to flavour.

Salt is the main seasoning for the fish, but it also has another use! It also extracts water from the fish and eliminates the fishy smell.

Once you sprinkle the mackerel with salt, let it rest for 20 minutes. Do not let it sit anytime shorter or longer. If it doesn’t sit long enough, the fish does not soak up enough salty flavour and the smell may still linger. On the other hand, if you let it sit for too long, the smell may be gone but the fish will become rough and lose its smooth texture.

You will often see mackerel grilled whole! In Western cuisine, it is almost a ‘must’ to remove the bones from the fish fillet. But in Japan, you often find fish cooked with bones on including tiny bones.

It is said in Japan that the chef can tell how much the diner loves fish by looking at how the diner left the bones on the plate.

Grilled mackerel is the perfect recipe for summer weather. In Japan, mackerel is commonly cooked using portable grills at the beach or offered at food stalls during festivals.

If you’re looking for Chinese equivalent for this grilled mackerel recipe, try our Chinese Steamed Fish. Although the cooking method is different, it follows the same simple theme!

Now, let’s get started on this grilled mackerel recipe!

Grilled Mackerel Recipe

The authentic name for this recipe is ‘saba shioyaki‘. In Japanese, saba means mackerel and shioyaki means salt (shio) and grilling (yaki). Lightly salted, this recipe still packs a punch when it comes to flavour.
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: fish, grilled, Japanese, mackerel
Servings: 2


  • 2 fillets mackerel or 1 whole fish
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 1-inch daikon radish
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 wedge lemon or lime


  • Lay the fish flat on a plate and coat the entire fish with sake.
  • Pat dry with a paper towel and discard the excess sake. Then transfer the fish to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Sprinkle ½ tsp salt on both sides of the fish.
  • Let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 ºF.
  • After 20 minutes, the salt will have made the fish expel water, which makes the flesh denser. Wipe off any excess moisture on the fish.
  • Place the fish skin side down and bake for 20 minutes, or until the flesh is golden brown.
  • Grate the daikon radish to serve. Chop the mackerel into 4 parts (optional).
  • Plate the grilled mackerel with grated daikon and a lemon wedge on the side. Pour a few drops of soy sauce on grated daikon.
  • Before eating, squeeze the lemon wedge over the fish. Eat the grilled mackerel with the grated daikon for maximum flavour. Enjoy!

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