How to サンマ焼き

サンマ are those tiny little fish you see in the supermarket. They look like this:

They’re pretty cheap and really small. The translation is “Pacific saury,” but I’m not even sure we eat them in the US. I saw my roommate cooking them one time, so I had him show me how to cook them. It’s actually pretty simple.

Step One – Bag it up!

Put it in a little plastic bag with tongs and take it to the checkout.

Step Two – Pour water in the fish drawer.

You can cook it in the little fish drawer that is attached to most Japanese stoves. Pouring some water in the bottom of the grill will make the cleaning process easier.

Step Three – Salt it!

Lightly sprinkle salt on both sides of the fish.

Step Four – Cook it!

Light up the fish drawer and throw the fish in head first. You can cook it on high heat, no problem.

Step Five – Flip it!

After about 10-15 minutes or so, flip it with chopsticks. The fish should be a little more burnt than in the above picture. Let it cook another 10 minutes until the other side is also nice and cooked. The skin will definitely burn a little, so don’t worry about that too much. With both sides it should take between 20-30 minutes.

Step Six – Eat it!

A lot of the oil drips out of the fish while it grills, so the meat itself doesn’t taste very fishy at all. It’s really tasty. You can garnish it with grated daikon + soy sauce and then sprinkle it with lemon/lime/sudachi or just eat it alone with rice and soup. Bonus points if you can handle the stinky beans. The one thing I can’t tell you how to do is eat it with chopsticks. That takes some serious practice.

サンマ is generally written in katakana, but it has cool kanji, too – 秋刀魚.

4 thoughts on “How to サンマ焼き

  1. My gosh, that’s a fish drawer!

    I’ve lived here for a year and have always wondered what the use of that was.

  2. Yep! I had no idea for three years. It really does help to live with Japanese people. Sanma are so cheap and so tasty, I feel like I wasted three years. I tried to roast eggplant in it my first year in Nishiaizu, but that was a disaster. It was built for fish.

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