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Sautéed Mackerel with Grated Cucumber-Herb Sauce

Grated daikon and soy sauce typically accompany grilled fish in Japan. Sautéing mackerel, with its high fish oil content, creates a crispy skin similar to grilling, while aromatic cucumber-herb sauce garnished with tart cherry tomatoes lends this dish a Western touch.

(per serving)

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Grated cucumber-herb sauce
  • 2-3 Japanese cucumbers, unwaxed*1, total 250 g / 9 oz.
  • 1/2 t Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 1 t grain vinegar
  • Dill, 1 T chopped + garnish
  • Italian parsley, 1/2 T chopped
Nihai-zu vinegar*2
  • 3 T grain vinegar
  • 3 T Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 2 mackerel fillets (fresh or frozen), each about 150 g / 5 oz.
  • 1/2 t salt*3
  • 4 t sake
  • 1 t canola oil
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered, for garnish
  • * 1 C (U.S. cup) = approx. 240 ml; 1 T = 15 ml; 1 t = 5 ml


  1. 1

    Cut off the ends of the cucumbers, then grate using a daikon grater (see photo). Place the grated cucumber in a strainer and press it lightly; mix in 1/2 t soy sauce and 1 t grain vinegar. Stir in the chopped dill and Italian parsley and set aside.

  2. 2

    To make nihai-zu, mix the vinegar and soy sauce and microwave on 600 W for 35-40 seconds or until the mixture is hot and steamy. This will help remove excess acidity. Set aside to cool.

  3. 3

    Cut each mackerel fillet in half and make cross-slits in the skin. This prevents the skin from shrinking and curling up when cooking. Sprinkle just a little salt on the flesh side, and the rest on the skin side. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove moisture from the fillets by patting with a paper towel. Rinse both sides with 1 t sake per piece and pat off moisture again.*4 Sprinkle another pinch of salt on the skin sides.

  4. 4

    Heat 1 t canola oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and wipe lightly with paper towel. Cook the fillets skin-side down, pressing down with a spatula. When the skin is nicely browned, turn over. Cook until a skewer passes easily through the fish.

  5. 5

    Place each fillet on a serving plate and spread the grated cucumber-herb sauce on top. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and dill. Pour over preferred amount of nihai-zu.

  1. * 1May substitute unwaxed Persian or English cucumbers.
  2. * 2Nihai-zu is a combination of vinegar and soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio. Japanese grain vinegar is recommended for a milder taste.
  3. * 3Amount of salt based on 1% of the total weight of the fillets.
  4. * 4Salting the fish and rinsing with sake removes strong unsavory flavors and improves taste.

Recipe by Michiko Yamamoto

Vol. 37

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