Saba Shioyaki (鯖の塩焼き) | Grilled Mackerel

Saba Shioyaki means “grilled mackerel with salt”. You may have had it in a bento box or as part of a teishoku (定食) or “set meal” at a Japanese restaurant, but it’s a simple dish that you can quickly and easily prepare at home yourself. Typically this dish would be served with rice, miso soup, pickles, and a small salad (like this sunomono) to make a complete meal.

Depending on the time of year, different varieties of mackerel may be available at your local supermarket or fishmonger- I used a small Spanish mackerel, but any type of mackerel will work as long as it is fresh. If you don’t have a toaster oven, you can still achieve the same level of browning and crispy skin by moving your an rack closer to the top heating element (broiler) of your oven. This recipe serves two.


  • 2 fillets of mackerel (saba)
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • Salt
  • Grated radish and soy sauce for garnish

1. Rinse the fish under cold water and then quickly run through a bowl of sake.

2. Pat fillets dry with paper towel.

3. Generously salt both side of the fillets and let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

4. After 20 minutes, you should see the fish expel water (this makes the flesh denser).

5. Wipe off any excess moisture from the fish fillets.

6. Preheat the toaster oven to 400F (200C).* Place the fish skin side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper (spray or brush with oil so the fillets don’t stick). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.

7. Grate a piece of daikon using a coarse grater. Serve the grilled mackerel with grated daikon on the side. Pour a few drops of soy sauce on grated daikon before you eat (the grated daikon serves as a counterpoint to the richness of the fish).

*Notes: Bake for 25-30 minutes without preheat.