6 Fish: Grilled Mackerel

Water can be eaten away.

Grilled mackerel is one of many popular fish dishes in Japan. (Photo from cegoh, made available under CC License)

Play Your Part         Jump to Recipe

Japanese love their fish – they eat it raw, they eat it cooked. They also eat it in all stages of its life – from egg to adult. Don’t go to Japan if you don’t take fish – you might get weird looks from the locals. Unfortunately, this crazy love for fish may also be the demise of a vibrant food culture.

Overfishing is a serious concern not just in Japan, but across the world. With the oceans and waters becoming heavily polluted with fertilisers, plastic and algae, the creatures of the sea are fast dwindling in numbers. And so aquaculture, seafood farming, is born. However, many challenges cannot be overcome – demands are too high, some species just do not want to be raised in captivity and resources requirements do not diminish.

Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Japan is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, with supplying for customers across the world. (Photo from pythong, made available under CC License)

There is but a faint hope to recover from the damage done, and that is a sobering realization. Demands may decrease and over-fishing may be drastically reduced as seafood prices climb out of the price range of even the wealthy. And yet, the bluefin tuna (hon-maguro) still auctioned successfully for 74 million yen (roughly 665 thousand USD) in 2017.

If our oceans and fish population are to be saved, drastic measures need to be made – from farmers to consumers, from non-profits to government.


Play Your Part:


back to top


Grilled mackerel, known in Japanese as Saba shioyaki (鯖塩焼き), is a popular dish in Japan. It is garnished with grated daikon, soy sauce and lemon; served with rice, pickles and miso soup. Usually on the salty side, this dish takes me back to my childhood – where it can be eaten in fancier setting for a full breakfast, or as a side dish in a casual night izakaya hang-outs.

Grilled mackerel makes for an quick, easy and healthy meal. (Photo by quintowu, made available under CC License)

Grilled Mackerel (adapted from Just One Cookbook)

Yield: Serves 2



  • 2 fillet mackerel (saba)
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • kosher salt
  • daikon (grated, to serve)
  • soy sauce (to serve)
  • lemon wedges (to serve)


  1. Rinse mackerel under running cold water, and quickly place fillet in a bowl of sake
  2. Pat dry fillet with paper towel (or alternatives)
  3. Generously salt the fish on both sides. Let sit for 20 minutes (to draw out water and make flesh denser)
  4.  Wipe off excess water
  5. Pre-heat oven to 200 C (400 F)
  6. Place fish, skin side down, on tray lined with aluminium foil or parchment paper (brush oil to prevent sticking)
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until fish to cook through
  8. Season with a few drops of soy sauce, or as much as desired
  9. Serve with grated daikon, lemon wedges and rice


Recipe Notes:

  • Best consumed freshly grilled, due to dryness if kept as leftovers


back to top


Ingredients of the Environment: A Cookbook Copyright © by Hazel Chew. All Rights Reserved.

Share This Book