This article shows you how to safely prepare freshly caught Mackerel Sashimi. And then, how to turn it into a beautiful light, Asian inspired salad with plenty of gorgeous flavours.
What is Sashimi?
Sashimi is a Japanese word that means ‘raw meat’.
Usually, this refers to raw fish. But it can also mean raw beef or other mammal.
What’s the Difference Between Sashimi and Sushi?
Whilst sashimi is raw fish or meat. Sushi refers to the cooked sushi rice that is seasoned with ‘sushi vinegar’. (Sushi vinegar is simply rice vinegar that has been seasoned with salt and sugar).
Sushi, the rice part, keeps its name when it is topped with various different toppings such as meat, fish or vegetables.
So if we used our mackerel sashimi on top of sushi rice, it would become mackerel sushi. Or as it’s known in Japanese, Saba Sushi.
Sushi is my favourite food in the world. And I’m guessing you’re a big fan of it too if you’ve landed on this article!
Is it Safe to Eat Raw Mackerel?
Yes, and no.
For any raw, uncooked fish to be safe to eat, it must be extremely fresh.
So it’s perfect if you’ve been out fishing and caught a bucket of mackerel.
Sadly, the fish for sale in supermarkets is not fresh enough to eat as sashimi. Even the supermarkets that have a ‘wet fish counter’ stock fish that is at least one week old. And often it’s older than that.
If you can’t catch your own, you will need a top-notch fishmonger.
Ask them for ‘sushi grade mackerel’, and they should only sell you the absolute freshest.
Why Should I Freeze my Fish Before Making Sashimi or Sushi?
Before eating, it is widely recommended to freeze your freshly caught mackerel fillets for a minimum of 4 hours.
This is to kill any parasites within the flesh.
Mackerel can be carriers of the Anisakis worm. This is a nasty little nematode that can cause Anisakiasis, also known as ‘herring worm disease’.
Whilst not every mackerel is carrying these little critters, it always pays to be aware of the risks.
There are questions as to whether a domestic home freezer freezes at low enough temperatures to kill the parasites.
If you are at all concerned, you can purchase FROZEN MACKEREL FILLETS from your local supermarket.
These will have been flash-frozen immediately after catching, at a lower temperature than your home freezer can reach.
How to Make Mackerel Sashimi
Quick disclaimer: I’m an English lass that loves eating sushi. And I’ve experimented enough to feel I can share my version Saba Sashimi with you. But I am not a trained sushi chef (although that’s an apprenticeship I would be all over!)
How to Gut a Mackerel
If you’ve caught the fish, you’ll first need to gut it. If you buy it from a fishmonger, ask them to fillet them for you and skip this step altogether.
Turn the fish over and locate the small vent hole towards the back of the mackerel.
Slip the tip of a sharp knife into the hole, and with the blade pointing forward, slice up to open up the abdomen.
Hook your finger into the cavity and remove the intestines.
Rinse the fish under cold running water.
How to Fillet a Mackerel
Next, you want to find the pectoral fins. These sit on each side of the fish, just back from the head.
Lift one up, and hold your knife just behind it. With the knife slanting forwards, slice down firmly.
Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side, thereby removing the head.
Finally, butterfly the fish open, cutting away the bones revealing two fillets.
Run your fingers up and down the fillet to feel if there any bones left in the meat.
These can be removed by pinching each one with a pair of tweezers and tugging them free from the meat.
Place the fillets on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, cling film or foil.
Place in the freezer for at least 4 hours (please see safety warning above).
If you are likely to leave them for longer, place a piece of cling film over the top to prevent them getting freezer burn.
Making the Mackerel Sashimi Salad
Once your mackerel fillets have been removed from the freezer and defrosted, slice them into bite sized pieces of sashimi.
How to Slice Mackerel for Sashimi
Starting at the wide end of the fillet, use an extremely sharp knife to make diagonal cuts through the meat.
Angling the blade slightly makes for a more attractive slice, showcasing the pink flesh and stunning silver blue skin with each piece.
Keep slicing right the way across the fillet, stacking each slice with its neighbours as you go.
Carefully slide each sliced fillet on top of your salad.
I’m using a very simple salad of carrots, peeled into ribbons with a potato peeler.
A few leaves of Chinese lettuce, sliced very thin.
Spring onions with the white parts cut lengthways into thin ribbons. The green parts I cut into little rings to dress the salad with at the end.
And radishes simply sliced into pretty little red rimmed discs.
Dressing my Saba Sashimi Salad
I then scattered my mackerel salad with sesame seeds and made a quick Asian style dressing.
This is a simple blend of toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and hot sauce.
Just mix them together in a small bowl and serve.
You can either drizzle the dressing over the entire salad.
Or dip each bite into it as you go.
The latter gets pretty messy, so do bear that in mind!
If you give this, or any of my recipes a go, please feel free to tag me any photos you share online! You can find me pretty much everywhere as @hedgecomber.
It makes me smile and I try to share all that I see :)
My Mackerel Saba Sashimi Salad
- 2 mackerel - filleted
- 1/2 Chinese lettuce - leaves washed, dried and sliced into thin strips
- 1 carrot - peeled into ribbons with a potato peeler
- 2 spring onions - white parts sliced intothin ribbons, green parts cut across into little rings
- 4 radishes - sliced very thinly
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp hot sauce - more/less to suit your taste
Fillet your mackerel and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, cling film or foil.
Place the tray in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours (please see safety warning in the article above).
Remove the fish from the freezer and allow it to defrost.
Prepare your vegetables as described above and toss them together on a platter.
Slice the fillets (as described in the step by step photos above) into bite-sized pieces of sashimi.
Layer the sashimi onto the salad. Scatter with the sesame seeds and rings of green onion.
Mix the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and hot sauce in a small bowl.
Drizzle over the salad immediately before serving.