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Japanese Grilled Fish: A Delicious and Healthy Dish

If you're a fan of Japanese cuisine, you've probably had grilled fish before. Japanese grilled fish, or yakizakana, is a staple in Japanese cooking and is enjoyed by many around the world.

Grilled fish is a simple yet delicious dish that can be prepared in many different ways, making it a versatile addition to any meal.

A fresh, whole fish sizzling on a grill with charred grill marks, surrounded by lemons and herbs

Preparing Japanese grilled fish is easy and can be done in a few simple steps. The first step is to choose the right fish.

Popular fish used for grilling include mackerel, salmon, and sardines.

Once you've chosen your fish, you'll need to prepare it by cleaning and gutting it.

Then, you can season it with salt, soy sauce, or miso paste, depending on your preference.

Finally, grill the fish until it is cooked through and serve with a side of rice and vegetables.

Serving and enjoying Japanese grilled fish is just as important as preparing it. In Japan, grilled fish is often served with a side of rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables.

You can also enjoy it with a cold beer or sake. Eating grilled fish is a communal experience, so it's best enjoyed with family and friends.

Key Takeaways

  • Japanese grilled fish is a staple in Japanese cuisine and can be prepared in many different ways.
  • Choosing the right fish and seasoning it properly is key to making delicious grilled fish.
  • Grilled fish is best enjoyed with a side of rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables, and is a communal experience that's best shared with family and friends.

Preparing Japanese Grilled Fish

A chef seasons a fish with soy sauce and grills it over hot coals. The fish is golden brown and glistening with savory juices

Grilled fish is a classic Japanese dish that is simple to prepare and delicious to eat. Here are some tips to help you prepare the perfect Japanese grilled fish.

Selecting the Right Fish

When selecting a fish for grilling, it is important to choose a fresh and high-quality fish.

Some popular options for grilled fish include mackerel, salmon, amberjack, and Spanish mackerel.

Oily fish is generally preferred for grilling as it has a rich flavour and texture.

Marination and Seasoning

Marinating the fish before grilling can add flavour and help to reduce the fishy smell.

A popular marinade for grilled fish is a mixture of miso paste, sake, and mirin.

Alternatively, you can season the fish with just salt or a combination of salt and other seasonings. Diamond Crystal kosher salt is a popular choice among chefs as it has a clean taste and dissolves easily.

Grilling Techniques

To grill the fish, first, pat the fish fillet dry with a paper towel. This will help the fish to cook evenly.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Brush the fish with oil to prevent it from sticking to the grill.

Place the fish on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the fish is cooked through. The exact cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish.

For whole fish, such as saba shioyaki or black cod, it is important to score the fish before grilling. This will help the fish to cook evenly and prevent it from curling up.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Brush the fish with oil and season with salt.

Place the fish on the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until the fish is cooked through.

Serving and Enjoying

A plate of grilled fish with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. A pair of chopsticks rests nearby. The fish is sizzling and emitting a savory aroma

When it comes to serving and enjoying Japanese grilled fish, there are a few things to keep in mind to fully appreciate its taste and flavour. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your seafood dish.


Soy sauce is a classic accompaniment to grilled fish. It adds a salty and umami flavour to the dish.

You can also try adding a bit of sugar or mirin to the soy sauce to give it a sweeter taste.

Another popular condiment is grated daikon radish mixed with soy sauce and lemon juice.

This mixture helps cut through the rich flavour of the fish and adds a refreshing taste to the dish.


Presentation is key when it comes to serving Japanese grilled fish.

Place the fish fillets on a plate and garnish with sliced negi (Japanese green onion) and a wedge of lemon.

You can also add a small salad or a bowl of miso soup to the side to complete the meal.


Sake is a popular pairing for Japanese grilled fish. Its subtle flavour complements the taste of the fish, and it helps cleanse your palate between bites.

If you prefer a non-alcoholic option, try yuzu or rice vinegar mixed with water.

These drinks have a refreshing taste that goes well with seafood.

When cooking Japanese grilled fish at home, you can also experiment with different seasonings and marinades.

Saikyo miso, a sweet and mild miso paste, is a popular seasoning for fish. It gives the fish a brown colour and a rich flavour.

You can also try broiling or baking the fish instead of grilling it on a frying pan. Cover the fish with aluminum foil to keep it moist and prevent it from drying out.

Frequently Asked Questions

A sizzling fish fillet on a traditional Japanese grill, surrounded by aromatic steam and garnished with fresh herbs

How do you prepare a traditional grilled fish dish in Japan?

To prepare a traditional grilled fish dish in Japan, you need to start by selecting a fresh fish.

The fish is then cleaned, gutted, and filleted.

After that, it is usually marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sake, and mirin.

The fish is then grilled over charcoal or an open flame until it is cooked through.

What's the secret to making delicious Japanese fish sauce for grilling?

The secret to making delicious Japanese fish sauce for grilling is to use high-quality ingredients.

You can make a simple sauce by mixing soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar.

Some recipes call for adding ginger, garlic, or green onions for extra flavour.

It's important to let the fish marinate in the sauce for at least 30 minutes before grilling to allow the flavours to penetrate the fish.

Can you list some fish commonly used for grilling in Japan?

Some of the most commonly used fish for grilling in Japan include salmon, mackerel, sea bream, yellowtail, and eel.

These fish are often available at Japanese supermarkets or fish markets.

What are the steps for grilling fish with salt, the Japanese way?

To grill fish with salt, the Japanese way, you need to first clean and gut the fish.

Then, sprinkle salt on both sides of the fish and let it sit for about 30 minutes. This will help draw out excess moisture from the fish.

After that, wipe off the excess salt with a paper towel and grill the fish over charcoal or an open flame until it is cooked through.

Where might I find authentic Japanese grilled fish in Singapore?

You can find authentic Japanese grilled fish in Singapore at Nakajima Suisan Grilled Fish.

This restaurant is located at Takashimaya Food Hall and serves a variety of grilled fish dishes. Other options include Shinji by Kanesaka and Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant.

What are some Japanese grilled fish dishes suitable for breakfast?

Some Japanese grilled fish dishes that are suitable for breakfast include grilled salmon, grilled mackerel, and grilled sea bream.

These dishes are often served with steamed rice, miso soup, and pickles. They are a healthy and delicious way to start your day.