SUSHI GUIDE: SABA (MACKEREL)

saba_sushi

Battera Sushi/Vinegary Mackerel

Saba is said to be a representative of silver-skinned fish. Fresh and fatty saba is really tasty as sushi and sashimi.

kakinoha_sushi

Kakinoha sushi, mackerel sushi wrapped with persimmon leaves. This is a local food of Nara and Wakayama prefecture.

1. Season and Area of Production

Fatty saba can be enjoyed between late autumn and the next February. The one from October to December is called “aki-saba (autumn saba)” and the one from December to next February is called “Kan-saba (cold saba).” It is especially caught in Ibaraki, Chiba, Tokyo, Shizuoka, and Miyazaki.

2. Savory and Appetizing Saba as Sushi Neta

Freshest saba caught on that day can be made into “Nama-sabazushi (Raw mackerel sushi).” Once you eat the raw saba fillet on the delicate vinegared rice, the fatty taste will be unforgettable. Freshest saba does not have fishy smell and has refreshing umami flavor.

3. History of Saba as Sushi Neta

Saba has been very popular in Japan for a long time, however, it requires being careful to eat it in raw. That’s why people usually marinate it in vinegar as “shime-saba.” In ancient times, saba from the sea of Wakasa bay was sprinkled with salt for preserving and transported to Kyoto in a few days on foot. As those saba became to have really good savory taste when arriving there, Kyoto people ate them as a special dish on celebratory occasion.

shime_saba

Shime-saba, marinated saba with rice vinegar.

4. Other Ways to Enjoy Saba

Saba are often eaten at home. The popular dishes using saba besides sushi are “shio-saba”, which saba is sprinkled with salt, or “saba-no-misoni” is simmered fresh saba in miso with sake, mirin and sugar.

saba_shioyaki_misoni

Left: Shio Saba, Right: Saba no Misoni