Spanish Mackerel dishes, two kinds サバの味噌煮と竜田揚げ

japanese cake
We bought a whole Spanish mackerel from our nearby gourmet grocery store. Again, the exact Japanese name for Spanish Mackerel is unclear but  I will just call it “saba” 鯖 さば. Certainly it looks and taste like one. I asked the fishmonger to just gut the fish. I made miso-ni 味噌煮 simmered in miso sauce (left) and tatsuta-fry 竜田揚げ.

I made the miso simmered mackerel in the morning and reheated it just before serving. Then I fried up the marinated tatsuta mackerel. This one was well seasoned and did not require any sauce just a bit of lemon juice.

I garnished the miso simmered mackerel with thin julienne of ginger or “hari shouga” 針生姜 and thinly sliced scallion.

Preparation of the fish:

This was a rather large mackerel. I filleted it “sanmai-ni-orosu” or sliced it into three layers (two layers of fillets and one layer of backbone and head). I removed the belly portion and also removed the meat under the fins since there are many small bones under the fins. Using a Japanese bone tweezer, I removed any small bones which remained.

I cut the pieces into rectangles and scored the skin so it wouldn’t break during cooking. I divided the pieces into two groups. I simmered one group in miso sauce and the other I fried into tatsuta.

1. Mackerel braised in miso sauce サバの味噌煮


Mackerel, one fillet, cut into rectangles with the skin shallowly scored. 

300 ml water

100 ml sake

5tbs miso

3tbs sugar

4 slices of ginger


I placed the water and sake with the ginger slices in a frying pan and brought it to a boil. I placed the mackerel in with skin side up. I removed some liquid and used it to dissolve a mixture of miso and sugar. Once dissolved I added it back to the pan (#1) and turned down the flame to simmer. I placed the otoshibuta (my usual silicone lid) on top (#2).

I simmered it until the sauce became thick and clung to the fish (for about 45 minutes to 1 hour) (#3).

2. Mackrel tatsuta fry 鯖の竜田揚げ


Mackerel, one fillet, cut into rectangles.

Soy sauce and mirin (1:1 ratio)

1 tsp grated ginger

Potato starch for dredging

Oil for deep frying


In a Ziploc bag, I marinated the mackerel for several hours in the refrigerator. 

I blotted the excess marinade using paper towels and dredged the pieces in the potato starch (#4).

I deep fried it in 350F oil for a few minutes turning once (#6).

Both dishes were quite good but we liked the miso flavored one best. Although these two dishes are good drinking snacks, we had them with rice. Especially the miso-ni was best on the rice (OTR). We were pleasantly surprised that the Spanish mackerel we got was very fresh and the resulting dishes were great.

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