Grilled Sanma – Pacific Saury

Do you know this beautiful shiny fish?

sanma 2

It is ‘Sanma (さんま, 秋刀魚)’ in Japanese. I have learned it’s called ‘Pacific Saury’ in English just recently. I never had a reason to search their name before because I have never seen them in London. Oh, only once actually in Japanese food shop but it was a frozen one.

The fish swim towards Japan in a big shoal in Autumn season with lots of oil on its body for laying eggs. They apparently have a very short life for just two years or something… 😦

Lots of Sanma appear in fishmongers in Autumn. It is one of the Taste of Autumn for Japanese.

So how do we eat them?

Sanma on plate

Of course there are many ways to cook it. Some are very regional like famous ‘Sanma Sushi’. However, the way I like the most is the simplest one.

Grilled Sanma

Grilled Sanma

It is ever so simple! Just grill them. You don’t even need to gut them. In this photo I used grated ‘Daikon‘ radish and chopped ‘Shiso‘ leaves as garnish. And then pour some Soy Sauce and just eat! A few drops of lemon/lime juice on top can be nice too.

Grilled Sanma close up

The meat comes off the bone very easily and the taste is so full of flavour.

I had heard that the taste intensifies by coating the fish with tiny amount of ‘Mirin’ before grilling and that was what I did when I cooked them for this photo. As the result I wasn’t sure Mirin helped the taste or not but certainly it made the fish a little burnt!!

It is so beautiful fish with so beautiful flavour. Autumn is definitely the best season to go back to Japan for food.


13 thoughts on “Grilled Sanma – Pacific Saury

  1. Hi, Thank you for this information. I am from Taiwan and we eat Senma too. Where can I buy this fish in the UK? I saw them online but they are for fishing bait. I suppose I shouldn’t buy from them, should I? thank you and I love your photos. Regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, sorry about the late reply. I think it is very difficult to find this fish in the UK. I had them once from a Japanese Fish shop many years ago but they were frozen ones. I believe the fish lives in Pacific Ocean and also not well known to people here (means people don’t buy them) so fishermen don’t catch them I’m afraid. 😊


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