Saba no misoni – Mackerel with Miso

I found two fist sized pieces of mackeral at the fish markets and it made me think of Japanese stews. I had a recipe in mind but couldn’t find the one of was thinking of/imagined so I used this recipe from Yoko Arimoto’s book of combined Japanese and Western food “New Basic Menu“. Recipes in Japanese are always a combination of reading, guessing, pictures and dictionaries for me so the dish is a little on the interpretive side.


800gm of Mackeral (saba) tail; 4tbs miso; 2tbs sugar; 3tbs mirin; 2tbs sake; 4tbs water; 2 knobs of ginger

Place everything except the ginger and the fish in a saucepan and heat up on a moderate heat until it just comes to a boil. Thinly slice one of the knobs of ginger and add it, then add the fish and cover it all very loosely with foil and simmer until the mackeral is cooked, turning occasionally. Served on a plate with the sauce and finely julienned ginger for garnish.

The sauce was a little on the sweet side and the pieces of mackerel were too large for too little liquid to cook properly and it all made me wish for a wider range of Japanese dishes to go with it, even some pickles. It was enjoyable though with both of us picking from the same plate with chopsticks.

Rounding off the evening with the film made from Kurosawa’s unmade screenplay Umi wa MitteitaThe Sea is Watching. Set in the Edo-era, it’s very charming, the film could be about Japanese tax law for all I care, the design (period) and colours (think low speed colour reversal film) are beautiful.

footnote: ni means to boil or simmer and is usually a verb but here it is just in its root form as a reading of the kanji.


  1. Reid’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    Looks great! Did you use red miso to make this? I think this is something that I need to try.

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    Hi Reid

    The recipe didn’t specify but I used red miso as it was what I had on hand. The colour of the sauce matched that of the book. The sauce is really just a watered down dengaku miso.

    I’d recommend using smaller pieces of fish and take the time to make some rice to have with it. Good luck!

  3. Reid’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    BTW…I meant to also mention that we don’t usually see saba that big in the stores. Usually, the saba is just the right size for barbecuing!

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