Sanma No Nitsuke

Sanma No Nitsuke

If you haven’t noticed I’ve been on a bit of a meat kick lately. I wanted to balance things out a bit so I made this nitsuke with some Sanma I had in the freezer.

Sanma or Pacific Saury is a long needle nosed fish with a shiny blue-tinted skin which puts it in a class of fish called aozakana or “blue fish”. Aozakana includes other similarly colored fish such as mackerel and sardines. The meat is darker and more oil laden and thus has a stronger flavor than other fish. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “fishy” (fresh fish should never be fishy), they are more intense than halibut or flounder which also means they contain more umami triggering glutamates.

Sanma (pacific saury)

All this is to say that you want to use stronger flavors when cooking aozakana. One of my favorite ways to prepare Sanma is as a nitsuke. In my version the Sanma is simmered in sake, soy sauce, sugar and ginger along with par boiled daikon. Sake and ginger are perfect for masking the stronger aromas and the sweet soy sauce compliments the rich meat perfectly. The daikon rounds have a nice soft texture and absorb the sauce making them a great accompaniment.

Serve it either with a big bowl of rice with a side of green veggies.

Daikon radish cut and beveled

for daikon
1 daikon radish peeled
2 C water
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 Tsp sugar

2 Pacific Saury
3/4 C sake
1/2 C mirin
1/4 C soy sauce
1 Tbs sugar
1″ piece of ginger cut into rounds

Peeled and sliced Daikon
Beveling the edge of the daikon slices

To prepare the daikon, slice it into 1/2″ thick rounds. Use a vegetable peeler to “peel” the corners. Rounding off the corners prevents the daikon from breaking apart as it cooks. Add the water, salt and sugar in a pot along with the daikon and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the daikon is tender, but not soft. Drain and set aside.

To prepare the sanma, use a sturdy knife to cut the tail off and remove the head around the gills. Make an incision along the belly from where the head used to be to the anus. Pull out as much of the innards as you can then rinse off the inside in cold water to get rid of any remaining blood and offal. Cut each cleaned sanma into 4 pieces.

In a pan that’s big enough to accommodate the daikon and sanma in a single layer, add the sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar and ginger and bring to a boil. Add the daikon and sanma pieces making sure the pieces are submerged. If you have an otoshi-buta (wooden drop lid), set it on top to keep it all submerged. If not, it’s no big deal, but you’ll need to gently flip the pieces half way through cooking. Turn down the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook for 10 minutes.

To serve, plate the daikon first then top with the sanma drizzling some of the cooking liquid on top.

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    Growing up, my mother often prepared sanma – pan-fried, seasoned with salt, pepper and a squirt of lemon juice. Lots of little bones, but so tasty with rice. I often wondered if there are other ways to prepare this fish. Thanks for this!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    Growing up, my mother often prepared sanma – pan-fried, seasoned with salt, pepper and a squirt of lemon juice. Lots of little bones, but so tasty with rice. I often wondered if there are other ways to prepare this fish. Thanks for this!

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    my dad loves sanma and i have a massive thing for daikon. so between me and him, this plate of food will be polished up within seconds. wonderful photos, as always! but i gotta go, cause i’m getting way too hungry now. :) x

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    my dad loves sanma and i have a massive thing for daikon. so between me and him, this plate of food will be polished up within seconds. wonderful photos, as always! but i gotta go, cause i’m getting way too hungry now. :) x

  • marc

    Helen, that’s another great way to have it!

    Diva, LOL sounds like a very complimentary pair:-)

  • marc

    Helen, that’s another great way to have it!

    Diva, LOL sounds like a very complimentary pair:-)

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com/ [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    I love sanma but I gotta say what amazes me are those those daikon rounds!

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    I love sanma but I gotta say what amazes me are those those daikon rounds!

  • http://rasamalaysia.com/ Bee

    You have mad skills in cutting up the daikon. Mine always look irregular. Yummy dish I am sure. Today, I found out the name of Mamenorisan and I am going to buy them!!!!

  • http://rasamalaysia.com Bee

    You have mad skills in cutting up the daikon. Mine always look irregular. Yummy dish I am sure. Today, I found out the name of Mamenorisan and I am going to buy them!!!!

  • http://takeitlikeit.blogspot.com/ Brooke

    This looks amazing – I love daikon, and you’ve cut them so beautifully. I’m sure mine won’t look nearly so good!

  • http://takeitlikeit.blogspot.com/ Brooke

    This looks amazing – I love daikon, and you’ve cut them so beautifully. I’m sure mine won’t look nearly so good!

  • http://whiteonricecouple.com/blog White On Rice Couple

    I haven’t had saury in so long, got cravings now…
    What I do love about this is the fattyness and the flavor of this fish, just like you said.
    Gosh, the fish is so beautiful too, before and after!

  • http://whiteonricecouple.com/blog White On Rice Couple

    I haven’t had saury in so long, got cravings now…
    What I do love about this is the fattyness and the flavor of this fish, just like you said.
    Gosh, the fish is so beautiful too, before and after!

  • http://www.fearlesskitchen.com/ Fearless Kitchen

    This looks wonderful. I’m not sure that I can find saury around here, but if I can I’ll know what to do with it.

  • http://www.fearlesskitchen.com Fearless Kitchen

    This looks wonderful. I’m not sure that I can find saury around here, but if I can I’ll know what to do with it.

  • http://chewonthatblog.com/ Hillary

    Your daikon is very clean cut.

    The first time I had daikon was from Chef Matsaharu Morimoto, he make daikon fettuccine. It was so cool to watch him cut a daikon radish into noodles!

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    Your daikon is very clean cut.

    The first time I had daikon was from Chef Matsaharu Morimoto, he make daikon fettuccine. It was so cool to watch him cut a daikon radish into noodles!

  • http://chefsgonewild.blogspot.com/ Zenchef

    What a beautiful fish that is! And the daikon rounds are so well done. Bravo!

  • http://chefsgonewild.blogspot.com Zenchef

    What a beautiful fish that is! And the daikon rounds are so well done. Bravo!

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com/ We Are Never Full

    never heard of saury – thanks for the insight. it’s amazing how it’s so easy to tell how oily the fish is just by looking at it. they look smaller than a sardine, am i right? i’m going to keep my eyes peeled for this type of fish.

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com We Are Never Full

    never heard of saury – thanks for the insight. it’s amazing how it’s so easy to tell how oily the fish is just by looking at it. they look smaller than a sardine, am i right? i’m going to keep my eyes peeled for this type of fish.

  • marc

    Thanks JS, but peeling with one hand while taking photos was the challenging part.

    Bee, can’t wait to see what you come up with for the mamenori!

    Brooke, If you have a vegetable peeler, adding the rounded edges is simple.

    White On Rice Couple, these were frozen, but they’re even better if you can find them fresh:-)

    Fearless Kitchen, they are a bit trickier to find, but you can use this recipe with other types of fish.

    Hillary, that’s a great idea, I’ll have to remember that one.

    Thanks Zenchef!

    We Are Never Full, it’s actually about twice as long as a sardine, but they are skinnier. The full name is Pacific Saury, so I’m not sure if they’re caught in the waters around here. I picked mine up at Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ.

  • marc

    Thanks JS, but peeling with one hand while taking photos was the challenging part.

    Bee, can’t wait to see what you come up with for the mamenori!

    Brooke, If you have a vegetable peeler, adding the rounded edges is simple.

    White On Rice Couple, these were frozen, but they’re even better if you can find them fresh:-)

    Fearless Kitchen, they are a bit trickier to find, but you can use this recipe with other types of fish.

    Hillary, that’s a great idea, I’ll have to remember that one.

    Thanks Zenchef!

    We Are Never Full, it’s actually about twice as long as a sardine, but they are skinnier. The full name is Pacific Saury, so I’m not sure if they’re caught in the waters around here. I picked mine up at Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ.

  • marc

    Thanks JS, but peeling with one hand while taking photos was the challenging part.

    Bee, can’t wait to see what you come up with for the mamenori!

    Brooke, If you have a vegetable peeler, adding the rounded edges is simple.

    White On Rice Couple, these were frozen, but they’re even better if you can find them fresh:-)

    Fearless Kitchen, they are a bit trickier to find, but you can use this recipe with other types of fish.

    Hillary, that’s a great idea, I’ll have to remember that one.

    Thanks Zenchef!

    We Are Never Full, it’s actually about twice as long as a sardine, but they are skinnier. The full name is Pacific Saury, so I’m not sure if they’re caught in the waters around here. I picked mine up at Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    The daikon is boiling and I can’t see who’s going to stop me now!

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    The daikon is boiling and I can’t see who’s going to stop me now!

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    The daikon is boiling and I can’t see who’s going to stop me now!

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Done! Fantastic! I love the tang of the daikon with the mirin and soy sauce! That’s a keeper.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Done! Fantastic! I love the tang of the daikon with the mirin and soy sauce! That’s a keeper.

  • http://barrynorman.blogspot.com Freshnessben

    I’ve been admiring this blog for a while, for both the quality of the recipes and the quality of the photography. Today, I finally had chance to try one of your recipes, and I went with this oily fish dish. Beautiful! The recipe was really easy to follow, and the result was spectacular. I live in Japan, so the ingredients are readily available, which is an advantage. I strongly recommend giving it a try! Keep up the good work boss!

  • http://www.redrocknoodlebar.com.au/franchise/ franchise takeaway

    Crazy good!!! It looks fantastic and need to try it for sure :)

  • Pingback: Gindara Nitsuke « Jeaniusleeeeeee!!

  • hilldomain

    If you cant find saury can horse mackerel or herring be used ? Im in Tokyo and its fall so no problem for me.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Yep absolutely!


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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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