Whole Fish

Sugata Yaki

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves



Appears in

At Home with Japanese Cooking

At Home with Japanese Cooking

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1986

  • About


  • 4 small whole trout
  • 1–1½ tablespoons coarse salt
  • Lemon wedges, soy sauce
  • 1 unwaxed cucumber, optional


Whole fish look and taste better when skewered, though they may be grilled on a net if skewering equipment is unavailable.

Eviscerate and skewer the fish just before grilling. Whole grilled fish requires two saltings: one decorative layer for fins and tail, and one for overall seasoning. For each fish, take ¼ teaspoon or more of salt between thumb and forefinger and press it onto the tail. Take more salt and make the back fin stand up as you press the salt on it. Then salt the fins near the gills. When the fish is cooked, these areas will be dry with a shimmering white crust. Now lightly salt the entire fish.

Grill the fish, right side first, for 7–8 minutes. Twirl the skewers frequently from the start to prevent the fish from sticking as it cooks. Turn the fish and grill it for 4–5 more minutes.

Remove the skewers immediately and serve the fish warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges and soy sauce. The Japanese often serve salt-grilled whole fish on long rectangular plates. The fish is from the sea and appears to be swimming, and often something stolid from the land, such as cucumber “mountains, ” is chosen as a garnish. If you wish to follow suit, cutting instructions appear.