home cooking: Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific Saury)

Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific Saury) 秋刀魚の塩焼き

Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific sanma) - teaser

Quick and simple, a 10 minute wonder, fresh sanma is delectable.

One of the best preparations of fish in Japanese cuisine is ‘shio yaki.’ shio means salt and yaki means grilled. Fish in Japan is something that is often eaten raw, so you can be sure that generally all fish in Japan is very fresh.

So, just a shake of salt and then grilled creates a delicacy that accentuates the fundamental quality of the fish itself. This is usually the approach in Japanese cuisine; accentuate the main event, not create a new flavor with spices, and etc.

This is another in our quick and simple posts on home cooking in Kyoto. Also, in the recent post on aozakana, we mention sanma, but didn’t have a good photo of this beautiful and distinctive fish.

Here, sanma is grilled, whole with the head and guts intact.

Sanma-no-shioyaki is served with grated daikon radish and often a wedge or two of sudachi, a distinctive Japanese citrus that really brings out and accentuates many flavors in Japanese cuisine.

After being served, a dash of shoyu is usually splashed on the grated daikon and sudachi is squeezed over the fish.

The meat of the sanma is separated from the bones and innards a bite-sized portion at a time. A bit grated daikon is then picked up with the chopsticks, placed atop the fish, then picked up and placed in the mouth. Of course, this can all be done with a fork and knife too.

Some Japanese actually eat the guts, but they should definitely be fully cooked. The guts are surely full of nutrition, but they are very bitter and would probably not be to the liking of most Westerners.

That’s it! Back home, on the West Coast of the US, we often were able to get fresh sanma. Try this dish out! If you can’t get sudachi, fresh lime and lemon juice, half and half, will do quite nicely too.

A note about grilling at home in Japan. Gas ranges in Japan always have a grill the cooks with an open flame from the top. Restaurants such as izakaya often cook many of their grilled dishes over charcoal. So, cooking on a western style barbecue will produce an authentic rendition of this dish. A broiler oven will also do just fine.

Sanma (秋刀魚) 秋 autumn, 刀 sword, 魚 fish
Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific sanma) - sanma

sudachi adds such an elegant twist to so many Japanese dishes
Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific sanma) - sudachi

all the fixins
Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific sanma) - sanma, daikon, sudachi

sanma cooking in the ubiquitous household fish grill
Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific sanma) - cooking

sanma served
Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific sanma) - served

sanma-no-shioyaki – how to eat
Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific sanma) - how to eat

sanma-no-shioyaki – how to eat
Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific sanma) - how to eat

9 Responses to “home cooking: Sanma-no-shioyaki (Salt-grilled Pacific Saury)”

  1. [...] just wrote this little blog post about Salt-grilled saury (sanma), a very popular autumn dish in [...]

  2. Gary says:

    Mmm…. Thats an interesting dish. I wish my mom would cook something like that. All I get is macaroni and sausage.

  3. PekoPeko says:

    Well Gary, maybe you can have Mom squeeze some sudachi on your macaroni and sausage.

  4. PunkySkunk says:

    This fish is SO delicious! I’m making it tomorrow in the oven, usually we grill it. I’m hoping it tastes just as good.

  5. Peko Peko says:

    Hello PunkySkunk, Welcome to KF! I kind forgot about this post, it is from way back! Where do you get sanma?

  6. peter damashek says:

    I live in Tsu, Mie prefecture. My wife Yumiko says putting some water in the fish grill pan takes away the fishy odor. I’m about to try it.

  7. peter damashek says:

    And the water in the grill pan definitely worked. It took away the fish odor from the cooking process. Sanma costs only 58 yen apiece in this season, about 60 cents US. Very affordable and tasty. I can’t believe I never did this before!

  8. Itadakimashou says:

    This is one of my favorite ways of cooking sanma. We are lucky in San Francisco as it is always available in Nihon Machi. And so inexpensive, too.
    Your photos are terrific. So glad I found your blog!

  9. I.H. says:

    Thank you, this blog answered all my questions about how to eat the tasty fish that I just got at Japantown!

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