Sanma or Pacific Saury is one of the most well-known seasonal fish representing autumn in Japanese cuisine. It’s usually salted and grilled whole and served with grated daikon and soy sauce to intensify the flavor of the fish.
Sanma or Pacific Saury is one of the most well-known seasonal fish representing autumn in Japanese cuisine. It’s usually salted and grilled whole even with intestines intact, and served with grated daikon and soy sauce to intensify the flavor of the fish. The Japanese enjoy the combination of the bitter intestine flavor with fresh grated daikon soy sauce. The kanji characters used in the Japanese names of the Sanma (秋刀魚) mean “autumn sword fish” in reference to sanma season and its body shape resembling a knife or a sword.
If you can grill sanma over charcoal, the smokiness adds another layer of flavor to the dish. However, I like using my oven toaster to grill my fish because it’s simple and easy to clean up. You can use an oven or a broiler, but please adjust the cooking time accordingly. I will be sharing another Sanma dish next week before the sanma season is over. This time I wasn’t scared to show fish head picture. Do you remember my post that I was concerned about publishing because I thought it’s scary looking? Well I received very positive responses last time from majority of readers who are used to fish heads so I am more confident this time to share the photos today. I hope I didn’t scare you this time… Have a great week everyone!
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Sanma Shioyaki (Salt-Grilled Pacific Saury)
- 1 Pacific saury (sanma)
- 1 Tbsp sake
- kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- 1 inch daikon radish (grate (I like this grater) and squeeze some of the moisture out; you don't need to use all of it)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 wedge lemon (optional)
- Cut the fish in half diagonally (to fit in my toaster oven). Place the fish vertically on the cutting board and insert a knife in the stomach side from top to bottom. Wash and get rid of the gut thoroughly in cold water. Wipe the entire fish dry with paper towels.
- In a bowl, put the fish and sake and leave it for 5 minutes. Sake helps to make the fish fluffier and to remove the unwanted smell.
- After 5 minutes, remove the moisture on the fish with paper towels. RIGHT BEFORE broiling/baking, sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt.
To Broil (Recommended)
- Preheat the broiler* with a rack placed about 6" (15 cm) away from the top heating element (in the middle) for 3 minutes. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleaning (Brush/spray the foil with oil or wrinkle up the foil so the skin doesn't get stuck). Place the fish on the baking sheet. Broil it medium/high until the surface is blistered and brown a bit, about 8-10 minutes, flipping once. *Typical broiler setting: Low/450ºF/232ºC, Medium/500ºF/260ºC, and High/550ºF/288ºC.
To Bake (Optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218ºC) with a rack placed in the middle and bake the fish on parchment paper until the surface is blistered and brown a bit, about 10-15 minutes, flipping once.
- Serve with a lemon wedge and grated daikon. Drizzle soy sauce over the grated daikon and enjoy it with the fish.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.