Shime Saba: Japanese Marinated Mackerel

If you like pickled herring or ceviche, you will love this too. Try to get the freshest Mackerel.

This is the Japanese favorite, called Shime-Saba (しめ鯖). I believe this is the best way to enjoy the quality mackerel but I need to warn you to use the freshest mackerel in order to prevent potential Anisakiasis (→see Wiki for details.).

What you need
Fresh mackerel
Vinegar (I like rice vinegar but good apple vinegar will work great as well)
Lemon, sliced

What to do

Of course you can ask at a fish store to fillet the fish but if you want to do it, this is how.

Cut off the head just behind the gills.

Cut a slit to open the stomach and take off the guts. Slide the blade through the body and separate the upper flesh from the bones.

Place the meat with bones on the cutting board, bone side down. Slide the blade between the flesh and the bones to separate them.

Now you have two fillets and bones. Wash them with salted water and pat dry.

Cut off the small bones around stomach.

Place the fillets in a flat container, skin side down. Sprinkle generous amount of salt over the fillets just like snow. Place kitchen paper or something on the bottom of the container so that the fillets will not bathe in the water dropping down.

Wait for 30-45min. It may take longer or shorter depending on the size of the fillets and how fatty they are.

This time the fish was medium sized and the meat was moderately fatty, so I waited for 30 min. Wait longer if the fillets are larger or fattier.

Rinse the fillets with vinegar after washing the salt off in running water. Then pat dry.

Marinate the fillets in vinegar to which you have added a couple of lemon slices.

Many people like to add some sweetness (such as sugar, honey or mirin) to the marinade but I suggest to use only vinegar and lemon for marinating. I think the meat itself taste better in this way.

Completely cover the fillets with the marinade for 30-40 min. Kitchen paper helps to save vinegar.

Pat dry the fillet. There is a line of bones running the center of the fillet. Take them with a tweezer.

Then pull off the skin.

Slice it and serve! Sprinkle with chopped scallion if you like.

You can simply use soy sauce and wasabi to dip but here is my favorite dipping sauce for the mackerel.

Orange-Soy Dipping Sauce
Freshly squeezed orange juice  4 tbs
Sake (white wine or vodka can substitute) 4 tbs
Soy sauce 6 tbs
Mix all three ingredients and enjoy!

I have this recipe in Japanese, too.

1 thought on “Shime Saba: Japanese Marinated Mackerel

  1. Pingback: シメサバ | お料理ダイスキ!ニューヨークおうちごはん

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