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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Yaki Saba Sushi (Grilled Mackerel Sushi)

[From May Issue 2010]

Ingredients [Serves 2]

  • 1 mackerel (sliced into 3 pieces)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 shiso (green perilla) leaves
  • 10g sweet pickled ginger

Sumeshi (vinegary sushi rice)

  • 1/2 cup of rice
  • 90ml water

Vinegar mix

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vinegar


  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Tezu: Vinegar-water solution to moisten hands, rice paddle and kitchen cloth, to prevent the sushi rice from sticking. Equal amount of vinegar and water is mixed together to make the solution.
  • 3-Piece Fillet: Cutting a fish into three pieces: upper, below and bone.
  1. Rinse the rice, and then add water (90ml). Let sit for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Slice the mackerel into 3 pieces and debone. Take one piece and lightly sprinkle salt on both sides, then let sit for 10 minutes. Season with vinegar and leave for 5 more minutes.
  3. Turn grill on high. Place mackerel on grill skin side up. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until brown. Turn over and cook thoroughly. Let cool.
  4. Well-stir the “vinegar mix” ingredients. Once the rice is cooked, pour vinegar mix evenly over the rice. Use the rice spoon to blend using cutting motions.
  5. Moisten hands with the tezu, and mould the sushi rice into a roll.
  6. Spread a piece of plastic wrap (30cm x 40cm) vertically and then place the mackerel, skin-side down, at the center. Layer the shiso green perilla leaves, sweet pickled ginger and the sushi rice on top. Spread the sushi rice so that it entirely covers the mackerel.
  7. Firmly wrap and then shape the sushi into a small loaf. Twist the edges of the plastic wrap and then let sit for 1 hour so the flavors can blend.
  8. While still wrapped, cut the sushi into 8 pieces. Peel off the wrap, then place the sushi on a plate and serve.

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