Herring and sardines aren’t the typical selections you’d expect to see on a sushi menu. But in an effort to be more sustainable, one sushi chef and restaurant owner cut overfished species from the menu and replaced them with these little ones. We featured Hajime Sato and a tasty recipe in our recent issue of Oceana magazine.
Hajime Sato is the chef and owner of Seattle’s Mashiko sushi bar—the city’s first sustainable sushi restaurant. When he switched over to an all-sustainable menu in 2009, Sato stopped selling some of the overfished sushi favorites like bluefin tuna and eel. Instead, he serves up little fish species like herring, sardines, and mackerel—called saba in Japanese. Sato’s simple and delicious saba with dill was recently featured in The Prefect Protein.
Hajime Sato’s Saba (Mackerel) with Dill
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 5 minutes
2 (4 to 6 ounce) Spanish mackerel fillets, cleaned & pin bones removed
Salt as needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1/2 cup sake
Lemon wedges and grated daikon radish for serving
Place the mackerel fillets on a large plate. Sprinkle generously on both sides with salt. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in refrigerator. Let sit for 1 hour. Pat mackerel dry with a paper towel. Press the 2 tablespoons dill into the skin side of the mackerel.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Coat the mackerel on both sides with flour. Over medium high heat, warm the oil in a non-stick frying pan large enough to hold the mackerel in a single layer. Place the mackerel in the pan, skin side up. Cook until light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Gently turn the mackerel over and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the sake over the mackerel and let evaporate, about 15 to 20 seconds. Serve on warmed plates with additional chopped dill, lemon wedges, and grated daikon.