Smoked Mackerel & Ginger Japanese Pilaf



Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

Japanese Food Made Easy

Japanese Food Made Easy

By Aya Nishimura

Published 2020

  • About
Preparation: 15 Minutes, Plus 1 Hour Standing
Cooking: 15 Minutes

We have a dried fish called himono in Japan, which is salted and traditionally dried in the sun. It has a concentrated umami flavour due to the drying process. Smoked mackerel is a good substitute, with some similarity in flavour and texture to himono.



  • 290 ml (10 fl oz) filtered water
  • 50 g ( oz) fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 fillets of smoked mackerel, about 150 g ( oz), skin removed and flaked
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced on the diagonal and kept in cold water


  • 300 g (10½ oz) Japanese rice
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • tablespoons soy sauce
  • tablespoons mirin


Place the rice in a fine strainer and set it over a bowl of water. Gently stir and wash the rice with your hands. As soon as the water turns milky, lift the strainer and drain the water. Repeat this process three to four times until the water is less milky. Drain the rice and leave it to stand for 30 minutes.

Place the drained rice in a heavy-based saucepan (ideally, use a cast-iron pan). Add the filtered water, sake, soy sauce, mirin and 20 g (¾ oz) of the ginger, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

Bring the rice to the boil over high heat. As soon as you hear the water boiling vigorously, reduce the heat to low and cook the rice for 11 minutes. Do not lift the lid while the rice is cooking – this is a strict rule! Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add the mackerel and remaining ginger to the rice. Gently mix together and fluff the rice. Cover the pan with a lid and set aside for 5 minutes for the mackerel to warm through. Serve with the shredded spring onion.