Grilled Mackerel (Saba Shioyaki) 鯖の塩焼き

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Grilled Mackerel |

Today I want to share a very quick and easy grilled fish recipe.  Grilled Mackerel or Saba Shioyaki (鯖の塩焼き) is one of the more popular seafood dishes served as an entree or part of a bento combination in Japanese restaurants here in the U.S.

Grilled Mackerel |

Before I continue with the recipe, I want to apologize for being absent here for more than a week and I’m very sorry for not being able to respond to your messages and questions.

I was planning to take a short break from blogging while my children are on spring break this week.  But before I had a chance to give a vacation notice on my blog, my daughter got pretty sick for several days.  Before she got fully recover, I ended up getting sick from her and followed by my son.  Therefore I needed a little bit more time off to get fully recovered and take care of my son.

During this time my blog has actually moved for 4th time to a dedicated server, and hopefully this should resolve server load issue.  Once again, I apologize for my late responses and I will get back to you as soon as I get better.

Meanwhile please enjoy this delicious Grilled Mackerel recipe.  Take good care everyone and enjoy the spring weather!

Grilled Mackerel |

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Grilled Mackerel (Saba Shioyaki)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 2 fillets of mackerel (saba)
  • 2 Tbsp. sake
  • Salt
  • Grated radish and soy sauce for garnish
  1. Rinse the fish under cold water and then quickly run the fish in a bowl of sake.
  2. Pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Generously salt both side of the fish and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. ).
  4. After 20 minutes… you should see the fish expel water, which makes the flesh denser.
  5. Wipe off any excess moisture on the fish.
  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 oil so it doesn't stick). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
  7. Grate a piece of daikon using a coarse grater (the one with circle holes). Serve the grilled mackerel with grated daikon on the side. Pour a few drops of soy sauce on grated daikon before you eat. Enjoy eating the combination of the fish and grated daikon together.
*Bake for 25-30 minutes without preheat.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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  1. Hi Nami, so sorry to hear about your poor health, hope you are recovering well…meantime, your mackerel certainly looks very delicious and nicely grilled:)

  2. Hi Nami! Health is very important… more than anything else. Take good care of yourself and your kids!

    Grilled Mackerel is what I would always order in a Japanese restaurant. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Love saba, though I’ve always bought the frozen ones. Mackerel seems to be seasonal over here, but will try it when I find it! Hope you feel better soon! Baking is usually quite therapeutic :)

  4. wow that looks good Nami. I love smoked mackerel pate, but I haven’t managed to cook fresh mackerel, to my shame. But this recipe has inspired me. So sorry you’ve all been sick. The only thing worse than having sick children is being sick at the same time – what a horror! Hope you are all well again!

  5. Nami-san, I hope you and your family is on recovery soon. I know kids love to share everything, including their germs. Your Saba Shioyaki looks delicious. I have not had this dish since living in Japan. I love, love, love that pottery dish! I know you are in a tough spot with your site getting so many hits. Is it time to move to your own dedicated server, that sounds expensive… My hubby is in Yokohama right now for one more day, do you have any culinary needs or something you need while he is there? Take care, BAM

  6. Liliana Tan

    So sorry to hear you and kids were sick and wish you all get well soon.
    Like grilled mackerel so much, tasty! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for your kind words Liliana! I really hope to get better soon. It’s not fun to be sick and take care of sick kid… :) Thank you for the well wishes!

  7. Hey Nami, please take care of your health, and I hope that you’re already feeling much better.
    This fish looks well grilled and delicious, I love the smell of grilled fish, and might just ask my family to do some grilling outdoors coming weekend :)

  8. I have been wondering where you have been Nami and I’m so sorry to hear you and your daughter haven’t been well. I hope you are now all well and fully recovered. What a spring break! I do hope you have had the opportunity to enjoy some down-time xx

  9. I have never had makereral before and I know I just spelled it wrong but going backwards on my iPhone will lose my post sometimes.

    I hope you all get to feeling better. How well I remember passing sickness around in my house. Sounds like your hubby is next in line. I hope not. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  10. I know how it is to get sick from what kids bring from school (kinder garden in my case). Hope you are feeling well now. We are still waiting for spring here..hope it will come soon.
    Love your photos and the recipe sounds amazing.

  11. Kimmi

    I’m glad to hear that your family is recovering — stay healthy!!

    This recipe looks very easy to follow, and I’m looking forward to getting some fish at the local market this weekend. I’ve never had grated daikon before (only boiled in soups and stocks), but it looks like it would be a refreshing pairing with saba. Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Thank you Kimmi! I’m trying my best to recover during this weekend before school starts next week… Oh the grated daikon is a wonderful addition and I hope you will give it a try – it works with mackerel, sanma (pacific saury), salmon… all kinds of grilled fish. :)

  12. Awwww, Nami, I hope you are all doing well!!! My kids have been sick on and off this entire winter… poor babies.

    If there’s anyone that can make fish look good on a photo, that is only you, my friend. Gorgeous!

  13. Veronica Cervera

    This is one of my favorites fishes. Love it in sushi too.
    I finally moved my “kitchen” to a new virtual home, and going crazy with the lasts touches.
    Have a great weekend,

  14. Aww I hope you all are on the way to recovery! We both get sick almost at the same time and I know how stressful and tiring is to watch sick kids. Sending you and your kids virtual healing hugs!

    I love mackerel and you did such a great job making it so delicious! I truly love your pictures..they are making me hungry!

  15. So sorry you’ve been sick! I hope everyone is feeling better. And congrats on the new sever – that means you’re getting tons of traffic, yes? :-) Love this dish – it doesn’t get any easier to make than this! I rarely eat mackerel for some reason – I should have it more often. Really like the idea of serving it with the daikon radish. Good stuff – thanks.

  16. Glad to see you back and feeling better. So sorry you and your kids got sick, it’s never easy! But this grilled mackerel is such a healthy dish. We tried something like this in Tokyo and I’ve been meaning to ask you how to do it. This post is perfect and didn’t realize it was so easy. Welcome back and thanks for sharing, Nami!

  17. I’m happy to see you back Nami but so sorry to hear you and your daughter were sick :( You’ve done so much in the past week! Travel, sickness, AND moving your blog to a new server. I hope things settle down for you soon. I love the simplicity of this fish. It looks wonderful!

  18. Nami,
    I hope you all are doing ok now! The season change has been crazy everywhere, my boys are too not well. It’s nice you took a small break, you know how sometime we need it.. BAdly!
    Anyways gal this fish looks fantastic and that plate LOVE IT!

  19. I’m sorry to hear that you and the little ones all got sick but it’s great that you’ve all recovered. Mackerel … not one of my favourite fish due to its very fishy taste but the recipe looks attractive.

  20. Hi Nami,
    Thanks for the recipe. My family LOVES grilled saba so I make it whenever I can find it in stores. BUT … there is a serious lack of this fish on the east coast. We rarely get any and if so, it’s frozen in a supermarket! Too bad – a super food!
    Take care.

  21. Minnie

    I’m so sorry to hear you and your kids took ill. The season has been fraught with flu. My son is still recovering, his 6th day of fever. Hope everything is back to normal soon. The Mackarel looks tender and flavorful.

    • Thank you for your kind words Minnie! My daughter had a high fever for 3 days too, and my son and I also had fever. I hope your son will recover soon and take good care.

  22. Rachel

    I hope that you’re feeling better now!
    Thanks for this easier recipe, it’s good after a long day at work!
    I was wondering what kind of sake you use, regular sake, or mirin? I know mirin is generally used for cooking.
    Thanks again for sharing!

  23. Hope everyone is feeling well now!

    This grilled mackerel recipe looks delicious. I love how you break it down and make it seem so easy and do-able for us!

  24. This grilled fish looks delicious Nami! I should get a toaster oven. My in-laws have one and when we stayed with them I used to use it all the time during the week for easy dinners. This mackerel looks like one we would all enjoy too.

    I do hope you’re feeling better quickly. It’s never fun to have sick kids, but even worse when you end up sick yourself. I hope you’re all up and running in no time. Hugs to you all!

  25. Eha

    Great easy fish recipe to follow . . . Namiko-san: please look after yourself – we will be here when you are fully healthy again :) !

  26. Lily

    Hello Nami.

    Sorry to hear that your family are not well but I’m glad that everyone is recovering. Tried and tested this is delicious!

    Thank you again for a great simple recipe.


  27. Don’t worry Nami, take your time, always family come first. You know what, we are going to celebrate my son Birthday at a Japanese Yakitori restaurant later tonight, and one of our favourite dish is this grilled Saba, they grill it over charcoal fire, it is super yummy. Anyway, your grilled Saba look equally good!

  28. Mich Piece of Cake

    I hope your family is all feeling better now, Nami. Thanks for sharing this. We can easily buy this fish and all I know is to squeeze lemon onto it… now I can try it with your recipe.

  29. On Nami, I do sincerely hope that you and your family will feel much better very soon! Your dish looks so delicious on that breathtakingly pretty plate that you served this on. Mackerel is actually a fish that can be easily found around here, it is so healthy and delicious but I certainly never enjoyed it the way you prepared it – this recipe sounds fabulous!
    Wishing you all the speediest of recoveries!

  30. suki

    I wish you fully recovering very soon, and coming back to your enthusiasm as always . and I do have a question, I can’t consume sake , what should I substitute it with ?

    • Hi Suki! Thank you for your well wishes. I’m hoping to get well soon.

      If you don’t consume sake, you can simply omit. It doesn’t make a HUGE difference. I always like to treat the fish with sake before cooking to get rid of fishy smell, but you can simply omit that extra step. Hope you enjoy this dish! :)

  31. carol | a cup of mascarpone

    Sending good thoughts your way that you are all feeling better, Nami! The grilled mackerel is lovely and the photos are gorgeous!!! Have a beautiful Saturday!

  32. Oh, I’m so sorry you’ve all been sick, Nami! Hope you’re on the mend. And, again, I’m sorry to hear about your server woes…what a pain. Your mackerel looks fantastic, my friend. Take care!!!

  33. Lf

    Hi, Nami,
    Hope you and your kid get well soon. Another mackerel fish recipe , I like it, I will try it since I can buy this type of fish in Malaysia easily. Now i have another new menu for my dinner.
    Thanks .

  34. Nami, I hope you feel a little better now. Even ill, you somehow still manage to post regularly such wonderful dishes! You are incredible! I love the way you treat the mackerel: so simple and yet so delicious. I only prepare mackerel with miso, but now that it’s warmer, grilling seems a much better option. And I like mackerel so much! Take care!

  35. Balvinder

    I never had viewing your post. sorry to hear you and your daughter were not keeping well for few days. I am glad you both are well now.
    Mackerel looks wonderful.

  36. Hi Nami,
    so sorry to hear that you and your daughter were not feeling well. Hope that you are fully recovered by now.
    Love the recipe, it’s fresh and light and looks delicious!

  37. Nami, I hope you and your kids are feeling better. Sorry everyone was sick during spring break or anytime for that matter. What a great way to cook mackerel. I’ve had mackerel before, and this looks like the tastiest of all the recipes I’ve tasted – and it’s easy! Makes it even better. Thanks for sharing!

  38. Jim

    Hi Nami,

    Glad to hear you are well.
    Just to ask you how do you fillet the saba fish if you buy it whole. In Singapore we purchase them whole and I find it difficult to debone them. This would be a new receipe as I marinate my saba with soy, sugar and bonito flakes and mirin (for the shine)


  39. Aww, I’m so sorry to hear about you guys being sick! We just dealt with that this weekend and I’m starting to feel it now too:( But I love a simple grilled fish. Yours looks perfectly cooked! And beautiful photos, as always!!!

  40. Nami, hope you all feel better soon- We also eat a lot of Mackerel back in India. This recipe is very new to me. Will definitely try it out. Love the bowl you have used!

  41. Nami, I always feel like you and I have some sort of food connection because when I eat something Japanese and want to know the recipe, you have the recipe here! I recently ate mackerel at a Japanese restaurant and it was superb but I was just saying to my friend that I’ve never cooked it. Now I can! 😀

  42. Dear Nami,

    This together with sanma are one of so many of my favourite Japanese recipes. I normally grill saba skin side up on a chargrill (heat from top) so the skin is slightly seared and crispy and also any excess moisture will drip off the grill. Is there any reason that you grill it skin side down?

    Also, I need a squeeze of lemon juice onto the fish once it is ready. Is that a Japanese tradition or simply an addition by some Japanese restaurants?

    • Hi C&MSP! I learned from my mom (and it’s actually common Japanese cooking term) that we have to cook 魚身鳥皮. I assume you can read Chinese, but it means for fish we start cooking from flesh and for chicken we cook from skin. So when I place fish in a fish griller (in Japan we have a special broiler for fish under the stove top), we always face the fish flesh to the heat source first. So I do the same for toaster oven.

      Another reason is that the flesh tends to stick on aluminum foil. I have oiled the aluminum foil before to see if it helps, but it still sticks (maybe wire rack may help). Saba skin has natural oil like you said and it prevents from sticking when the skin side is down (and I do not put oil at all). The skin gets crispy too but won’t be easily burn when it’s on the bottom.

      So those are my two main reasons why I put skin side down. :)

      Oh, lemon is sometimes served with the fish, but not always. However, daikon oroshi (grated daikon) is almost always served with saba shioyaki… I think. :)

      • Dear Nami,

        Thanks for the clarification. I always need daikon oroshi with this dish. I read somewhere it is not good to have the food in direct contact with the foil when baking so now I put a sheet of baking paper over the foil before wrapping up the food, eg a spaghetti marinara in the oven to retain all the flavours.

        If I am pan-searing say a salmon fillet, I would cook that skin-side down on the pan for about 80% of cooking time before flipping over, depending on thickness of the cut. The skin doesn’t burn since it has natural oils and becomes really crispy too.

        • Oops, I sometimes use foil for cooking/grilling/baking! >_< Using baking paper sounds like a good idea! :) Thank you so much for your advice!

  43. Oh no, hope you and your kids are completely well now. I usually go by the oven-grill-method when it comes to saba mackerel too. But I don’t buy mackerel often enough. I shd do it more often.

  44. Nami, I feel so bad I haven’t been here in a while! Finally catching up on some reading tonight. I love saba, this looks so delicious, I’ll add it to our menus very soon. Glad you and your little ones are feeling better :-)

  45. These viruses are so awful! And once they enter in the family only God knows who they will hit next! I hope you are all have recovered by now and fish is such a great source of vitamins and elements. The perfect way to strengthen yourselves!

  46. donna mikasa

    So sorry to hear you and your family are under the weather! I was wondering what happened to you. Speedy recovery to all.

    Next to salmon, saba is my favorite fish! I love the fattiness and the idea of simply grilling it makes my mouth water! Maybe this will be on our menu tonight! Take care, Nami!

  47. I’m so sorry to hear that all of you have been ill – kids always bring everything home from school, don’t they? I hope you are all feeling better by now. I’m not crazy about a lot of kinds of fish, but my husband loves it, so I will bookmark this to try for him! Thanks!

  48. My hubby and I LOVE grilled mackerel at Japanese restaurants, and I am glad that you shared this recipe. The first time I tried making this at home – I had pan fried the fish which made it a bit more oily than I had liked. I will try salting it and baking it the next time. Thanks again for sharing this recipe! And I hope that you and your daughter are now feeling better!

  49. Oh I’m so sorry to hear about the sickness! I hope everyone starts to feel better…and soon. This looks delicious. Perfectly grilled. Thank you for sharing! I’m glad to be back home after a week of traveling…and finally catching up on my favorite blogs. I hope you have a blessed week!

  50. Glad to hear you’re starting to feel better now, Nami! I think I’m catching something as well. This fish is absolutely gorgeous…and I’m sure delicious as well! x

  51. Hope you are feeling better Nami…sorry to hear that the kids and you got sick…
    I love saba, but cannot get my husband to eat it…too fishy for his taste :)
    Feel better my dear :)

  52. Nami, I am sorry you have been sick and hope you are feeling better very soon. Take good care of yourself. Your grilled mackerel looks fabulous! I love the grated daikon on the side. My husband is a big fan and always orders mackerel in Japanese restaurants. Now I can try it at home!

  53. Hi Nami, so sorry you were sick – that’s never fun, and your poor kids too! I hope everyone is feeling great again :)

    Lovely looking fish – I love mackerel… isn’t the colour and pattern of the skin so pretty?

  54. My kids were sick for their Spring Break, too! Well, two out of three, so the healthy one was bored, bored, bored. I’ve been sick with allergies, so I know how everything shuts down when Mommy is sick. Feel better and the blog will always be there!

  55. I’m glad you’re all feeling better! Wow, that must have been so tough with everyone getting sick.

    I think this looks simple and delicious. Mackerel is so nutritious with all those fatty acids and would be perfect to help rebuild strength.

  56. CK

    ^.^ That is happiness on a plate right there. Some miso soup and rice with some tsukemono and once again I am back having a Japanese breakfast moment. Thanks so much for the post, Nami and we are all hoping your road to recovery is quick!

  57. I hope you’re feeling better by now. I have to try your mackerel recipe soon. I am always looking for easy fish recipes. This looks really tasty and easy. I love it!

  58. Glad you are all better now.
    I cook everything, but somehow have never cooked fresh mackerel. With your inspiration, next time I see it at the market, I’m picking it up and bringing it home to use your method.
    Adore the turquoise plate!

  59. Whenever I go to Japanese restaurant for lunch, I often find myself ordering this grilled mackerel set lunch. Love the radish and the soy sauce on top of this fish. I love the flavor of the fish when pant-fried but it leaves strong fish odor for a while in the kitchen. Baking the fish in the oven is great alternative and healthier option. Thanks for your step by step instruction. My craving is kicking in…

  60. Nami I’m so sorry to hear you were all ill, I hope everyone is healthy now. Your mackerel looks scrumptious. It is one of my favorite fishes to eat and have to give your recipe a try.

    P.S. Love your dish! I just purchased a coffee cup with the exact design and colors:)

  61. Serene

    Hi Nami san, I chance upon this webpage when I’m trying to find the Saba shio receipe. I have tried to cook and the skin always stick to the aluminum foil. Can I check if I can bake the fish with the skin facing up instead of skin facing down?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Serene! Spray or brush the oil on aluminum foil would help. You can also put on wire rack too, if it’s available. But sure, you can cook skin facing up – make sure you don’t burn the skin. :)

      • Serene

        Hi Nami-San,

        Many thanks for your reply.

        I have tried using oil but the skin got stuck onto the foil as well. Guess I am just bad at cooking. Maybe I should use parchment paper instead. Do you think this is a better choice then aluminum foil?

        • Serene, no no, you are doing fine. It easily sticks to the foil even you oil it. Parchment paper works too, but make sure there is no extra paper close to the heat sauce because it can be burned and dangerous (especially toaster oven is so small). Hope that helps! :)

  62. seny

    Besides mackerel and salmon what other type of fish is nice when you grill with salt seasoning? Will snapper taste as good?

  63. Evie

    i have a cheap toaster oven that doesn’t have a preheat option, do I still need to preheat it? Any idea how long that would take? I tried broiling once it didn’t come out well (no browning). But I would love to make this in a toaster oven instead of heating up the whole kitchen. Thanks. This looks like a tasty simple dinner.

    • Hi Evie! My toaster oven doesn’t have pre-heat either, but if you can leave it on for a few minutes ahead of time, that’s considered pre-heat. To be honest, I sometimes skip preheating and just start cooking. The cooking time is a bit longer than I specified but total cooking is about 25 minutes or so at 400F (200C). Now I’m not sure how big your oven toaster is and how close your heat source is, but if you have a typical small toaster oven, it should have enough heat and time to cook the fish with nice char. Hope this helps! :)