Broiled Mackerel (Saba Shioyaki)


Admittedly, at home we generally don't make Asian-style food all that much despite our heritage. I don't think we really have a reason for that either. Ask me what I like to make at home and I'll throw out ideas like baked chicken wings, pasta, mashed potatoes, or shepherds pie. T will say he likes making pot roast. We do eat Asian food frequently but they are often from outside and not homemade. When the urge is strong enough, we would embark on making a pot of curry or mapo tofu at home.

It was one of those Saturdays with overcast skies that made laying low at home the perfect way to spend the night. If we were going to stay home on a Saturday night instead of heading out to enjoy the city, we were going to make an excellent homemade dinner out of it. We had a specific craving and it was Asian-inspired. We jumped into the car and made a quick dash to the closest Korean grocery store, a place that we rarely visit but probably should visit more often. Cravings for saba shioyaki (grilled mackerel) were powerful that day and though this is a Japanese dish, we knew we could find fresh mackerel at a Korean grocery store. While there, we picked up some banchan to accompany our dinner.

The preparation for saba shioyaki is fuss-free. It literally means broiled mackerel seasoned with salt. If you have a toaster oven that has a broil function but never really used it, here is a perfect chance to. We broiled the mackerel in our toaster oven and thanks to the small size of this appliance, relative to the oven, the heat was quick to distribute evenly while only requiring a short amount of time to cook the fish. The result: extremely moist fillets with perfectly charred skin. No fuss, no mess.

Whole mackerel fish
Salt and pepper

1. Clean the mackerel and and half the fish lengthwise to get 2 pieces of fillets. Rinse and pat dry with paper towel. If you can get your fish vendor to fillet the mackerel, all the better.

2. Season both sides of each fillet with salt and pepper. The ratio of salt to pepper should be 2:1. Set aside.

3. Preheat toaster oven to 400F on the broil function. Using non-stick spray, evenly coat the broiler insert tray and place inside the baking pan that comes with the toaster oven.

4. Place the fillets skin side up on the broiler insert tray.

5. Put the fillets in the toaster oven for 10 minutes or until the skin begins to brown. The goal here is to char the skin until crispy.

6. Switch to the bake function and lower the temperature to 350F to finish up the cooking process for the rest of the fish. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Times may vary depending on the size of the fish and oven.

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