A photo of Saba nigiri
Mackerel (Saba)

Mackerel (Saba)

【Nigiri sushi: Hikarimono
What is Saba?
Saba is a migratory cold-sea fish that moves north along the Japan coast rom spring to summer while laying eggs, then migrates south again from autumn to winter.

There are so many “designer” mackerel, that it’s impossible to remember them all, including “Sekisaba” from the Bungo Channel, “Shunsaba” from the Goto Islands, “Misakisaba” from the Hoyo Strait, “Kinkasaba” from the Kinkazan open seas in Miyagi Prefecture, and “Ougonsaba” from Matsuwa. Sekisaba has a similar appearance to Aji and the taste is refreshing, while Kinkasaba is large with ample fat. Ougonsaba has a balanced fat distribution throughout the body and the meat is soft so it conforms well to Shari.

The designer mackerel is caught using the traditional Ipponzuri (Catching fish with fishing poles). The fisherman are extremely careful not to touch the mackerel as this can cause it to spoil more quickly, and they handle the fish so as to assure the utmost freshness.

Because of its high-fat content and therefore short shelf life, since long ago mackerel was often eaten vinegared and salted, but recently it’s become common to find mackerel as a raw topping. Fatty mackerel sushi is a nice treat during cold winter. The rich flavor of blue-skinned fish gives leaves you with a fine aftertaste.

In order to get rid of the fishy smell of mackerel, some methods can be used like grilling its skin, or using juice and peel from citrus fruit like a lemon.

Also called Chub mackerel or Slimy mackerel or Thimbel-eyed mackerel. (Revision date: april 29, 2024)

Mackerel contains an ingredient called histidine. As the mackerel decays, its histidine is converted to histamine. Histamine is a toxin and it can cause urticaria, difficulty breathing from anaphylactic shock and other problems, so caution should be taken. This is why the osmotic pressure of salt is used, and the component can be removed in around two hours. This is called “shiojime”.

【Related contents】
Where does the name “battera” come from?

Why are two pieces of nigiri sushi made at once?

What is Sekisaba?

What is Blue mackerel (Gomasaba) sushi?

What is Warisu?

What is Ikekoshi?

Atlantic mackerel (Taiseiyosaba)

List of Silver-skinned fish (Hikarimono)

Main production area

Shizuoka Mie Nagasaki

Famous production area

Matsuwa Saganoseki