Mackerel in Bean Sauce

Saba No Miso Ni

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves



Appears in

At Home with Japanese Cooking

At Home with Japanese Cooking

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1986

  • About

This pungent bean sauce garnished with fresh ginger is perfect with firm-fleshed mackerel. Here the fish is blanched and poached, then simmered in a fast-reducing sauce. The result is tender, richly flavored fish that would be particularly good served with hot white rice and a cold, tart vegetable salad.


  • 4 small mackerel fillets, about 2–3 ounces each, with skin intact
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5–6 inches konbu (kelp for stock making)
  • ½ cup water
  • Small knob of fresh ginger (about size of thumb)
  • 5 tablespoons Sendai miso (dark bean paste)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saké (rice wine)


Rinse the fish fillets gently under water and pat them dry. Sprinkle the salt over the fillets and let them marinate for 10–15 minutes. Use tweezers to remove any small bones.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Blanch the salted fillets until they are firm and white, and quickly remove them. Gently rinse off any scum that might be clinging to the fish.

In a small saucepan prepare the poaching liquid. Place the kelp in ½ cup water and bring it to a boil. Discard the kelp and remove the pan from the stove. Peel and grate half the ginger, squeezing the gratings to obtain about 2 teaspoons ginger juice. Add the ginger juice to the kelp liquid.

Arrange the blanched fillets in one layer, skin side up, in a wide pot or skillet. Pour the poaching liquid over the fillets and simmer them, partially covered, for 2–3 minutes over very low heat.

Combine the bean paste, sugar and rice wine in a small saucepan, and, stirring constantly, cook over medium heat for a minute or so. Add the bean sauce and stir gently to mix. Cook for 3–4 more minutes over medium heat; the sauce should be glossy and reduced by more than half.

Peel the remaining ginger and cut into very thin threads. Soak these in a small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes before draining them well.

Serve the fish warm, or at room temperature, well napped with the dark bean sauce and garnished with a small tuft of yellow ginger threads.