Saba Tatsuta-age: Deep Fried Mackerel
Named after the golden red color of the autumn leaves by the Tatsuta River near Nara, as evoked in a famous poem dating from 9th century, Saba Tatsuta-age is a wonderful recipe to try when you manage to secure high quality mackerel (‘Saba’ in Japanese), whether fresh or frozen.
Though traditionally prized for the delicious taste you get when you seal in all of the fish fat, this method of cooking has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts as scientists have increasingly identified the health benefits of essential nutrients such as Omega-3, which are plentiful in mackerel and other blue-backed fish.
A secondary, but not inconsiderable, advantage is that this way of cooking mostly attenuates the strong, fishy-smell that’s typical of Blue-Backed fish. The result is a succulent fish dinner that’s nutritionally outstanding without the overpowering fishy taste you get from other ways of cooking mackarel.
- One mackerel, which is easy to find. Frozen fish is ok.
- Sake – two tablespoon
- Soy sauce – two tablespoon
- Ginger – one small piece
- Potato starch – enough to cover the fish
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Place fish pieces on kitchen paper and pat dry to remove excess moisture.
- Cut mackarel into 4 or 5 cm. thick slices.
- In a deep dish, mix sake, soy sauce, grated ginger. (The ginger will remove the fishy taste.)
- Marinade the fish pieces for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the mackarel from the marinade and again place on kitchen paper to remove excess liquid.
- Cover fish pieces thoroughly with potato starch.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan, withou letting it get too hot (about 170 °C)
- Fry fish pieces until golden on all sides
- Serve with something green on the side.
click to enlarge
Properly executed, the fritters will hold all of the mackarel’s fat inside, creating moist, delicious bursts of flavor that do not have a strong aroma at all.