Spanish Mackerel [Sawara]


Japanese Name and Pronunciation:

sawara in Japanese


Sawara, also known as Spanish mackerel, is a popular fish in Japanese cuisine. It is highly regarded for its firm, fatty flesh and rich flavor. In Japan, Sawara is considered a seasonal fish, with specific periods when it is at its best in terms of taste and freshness.

Sawara has long been regarded as an important fish in traditional Japanese cuisine and has been widely used in various occasions, including ceremonial events. It is a highly delicate fish, and handling and selecting it can be quite challenging. If it is lifted by the tail, for example, the flesh may break apart.

In the Kansai region, Sawara is considered to be in season during spring. This is because the fish gathers in the Seto Inland Sea for spawning, and a significant catch is made during this time. On the other hand, in the Kanto region, Sawara is considered to be in season during winter. It is referred to as “Kanzawara” and has a different taste and a remarkable fattiness compared to the spring Sawara. The difference in taste makes it feel like a distinct fish altogether

In Japanese cuisine, Sawara is prepared and enjoyed in various ways. One popular method is grilling, where the fish is lightly seasoned with salt or soy sauce and then grilled over charcoal or an open flame. This cooking method enhances the natural flavors of the fish while creating a smoky aroma.

Another common preparation for Sawara is as sashimi, where the fish is sliced into thin pieces and served raw. The firm texture of Sawara makes it an excellent choice for sashimi, and it is often served with soy sauce, wasabi, grated ginger or garlic as condiments.

Sawara is also commonly used in aburi sushi. Sawara, being a relatively moist fish with soft fibers, is often aged or lightly seared when used for sushi to enhance its texture.

During the peak season, you will find Sawara featured prominently in many Japanese restaurants and sushi bars across the country. It is highly valued for its distinct flavor and versatility in various cooking preparations.

So, if you happen to visit Japan during the winter and spring months, I would recommend trying Sawara to experience its delicious taste and appreciate its significance in Japanese cuisine.

Seared Spanish Mackerel Sushi [Aburi Sawara]
Seared Spanish Mackerel Sushi [Aburi Sawara]