Marinated and Deep-fried Mackerel (Mackerel Tatsuta Age) is packed with flavour. The mackerel pieces are marinated in a delicious soy-based sauce with plenty of grated ginger. It is a simple dish that is not only a great main but also a perfect finger food.
I have already posted a few mackerel recipes such as Nanbanzuke (Marinated Fried fish), Shime Saba (Cured Mackerel) and Simmered Mackerel in Miso. But Tatsuta Age is my favourite method of cooking mackerel as it is one of the simple mackerel recipes.
Marinated and Deep-fried Mackerel (Mackerel Tatsuta Age) is a fish version of Japanese Fried Chicken (Karaage Chicken). It’s so tasty and so addictive.
What is Tatsuta Age
‘Tatsuta Age’ (竜田揚げ) is a generic name for a particular type of deep-fried dish. Prior to deep-frying, the fish pieces or meat pieces are marinated in soy sauce, mirin, etc, with plenty of ginger, then coated in cornflour/corn starch.
Typically, fish with strong flavours such as mackerel, yellow tail, and king fish are used when making fish Tatsuta Age. But there is no reason why you cannot use white flesh fish. In the case of meat chicken, pork and beef are commonly used.
If you make Tatsuta Age with king fish, then you call it king fish Tatsuta Age. If made with chicken, it is called chicken Tatsuta Age.
The name ‘Tatsuta’ (竜田) came from the Tatsuta River in Nara prefecture. Nara Prefecture is famous for the picturesque river in autumn that is filled with beautiful red maple tree leaves.
Very distinct characteristic of Tatsuta Age is the white patches of cornflour on the deep-fried fish and people thought the Tatsuta Age pieces looked like the maple tree leaves in the water flow of the river.
Tatsuta Age vs Karaage
They are indeed very similar and both are deep-fried dishes (‘age’ means deep-fry). To be precise, Karaage is a generic word for deep-fried food coated with or without flour. It covers a wider range of fried dishes that include Tatsuta Age.
To call the dish Tatsuta Age, you must coat the meat/fish in cornflour – see the comparison photo below between Tatsuta Age with white patches of cornflour (top) and Karaage Chicken (bottom).
And the marinade includes soy sauce, mirin and ginger. On the other hand, you can use plain flour or other types of flour to coat the meat to make Karaage. Sometimes the meat pieces are not even marinated.
Therefore, it is incorrect to call the dish ‘Tatsuta Age’ if you did not marinate the meat pieces and did not coat with cornflour/corn starch before deep-frying.
Marinade for Marinated and Deep-fried Mackerel
Prior to deep-frying the fish pieces, you need to marinate them in the Tatsuta Age marinade for 30 minutes.
The marinade is a mixture of soy sauce, sake, mirin and plenty of grated ginger. 1 portion of sake and mirin are mixed in 2 portions of soy sauce. The amount of grated ginger is a bit more than 4 portions.
For 400g/0.9lb of fish/meat, you will need the following ingredients to make Tatsuta Age marinade:
- 1 ½ tbsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sake
- 1 ½ tbsp grated ginger
There is a lot of grated ginger in the marinade, but the ginger suppresses the fishy smell and the strong flavour of the main ingredient.
How to make Marinated and Deep-fried Mackerel
The steps to make Mackerel Tatsuta Age is as follows:
- Remove bones (including small bones along the back bone) from the mackerel fillet. The flesh of mackerel is very soft so you need to handle it with care.
- Slice the fillet into 2cm wide strips at a slight diagonal angle (photo above). Alternatively, cut the fillet into 3-4cm/1¼-¾” wide strips. As long as they are cut into bite-size pieces, that’s fine.
- Marinate the fish pieces for 30 minutes. I placed the fish in a shallow baking tray, added the marinade and placed a piece of cling wrap over the fish so that the marinade reached to the surface of the fish (photo blow).
- Pat dry the fish pieces.
- Coat the fish pieces with cornflour/corn starch and deep-fry at 170C/338F. It is best to coat the fish with cornflour/corn starch just before frying.
Notes on making Mackerel Tatsuta Age
Because the flesh of my mackerel was quite soft, I kept the shape of the fillet while slicing it. Then using a knife, I lifted the entire fillet to transfer it to a tray to marinate.
Key to make white patches of cornflour when deep-fried is the right depth of the oil. The depth of the oil should be about the thickness of the mackerel pieces. I sometimes could not make white patches of cornflour like the photo below. But that’s OK. They were still delicious.
If you are making Tatsuta Age with fish that has firmer flesh, you can even use a zip lock bag to marinate the fish pieces.
You don’t have to use meat/fish with strong flavours of course. But mackerel is my favourite fish and it is not so expensive. I made Tatsuta Age with yellowtail as well some time ago. It was equally tasty.
P.S. Sorry for missing a couple of weeks of posting. I was in Japan and there were so many things I did while in Japan. Hence, I found it very difficult to concentrate on writing a post.
Marinated in a delicious soy-based sauce with a ginger flavour, deep-fried mackerel is packed with flavour. Marinated and Deep-fried Mackerel (Mackerel Tatsuta Age) is a simple dish that is not only a great main dish but also a perfect finger food.
Total time includes the marinating time of 30 minutes.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 400g/0.9lb mackerel fillets , bones removed (note 1)
- 3 tbsp corn flour/corn starch
- Cooking oil for deep-frying
- 1 ½ tbsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sake
- 1 tsp mirin
- Shredded lettuce leaves
- Sprigs of parsley
- Lemon wedges
Slice the fillet to 2cm/¾” wide strips at a slight diagonal angle (note 2), without detaching the piece from the rest of the pieces (see the photo in the post).
Using the side of the knife, lift the sliced pieces together and slide them into a container. I used a shallow baking dish that can fit four fillets without overlapping. (note 3).
Mix the Marinade ingredients and pour the marinade to the tray ensuring that the marinade covers every piece of fish.
Place a piece of cling wrap on the fish covering the surface of the fish pieces and press down so that the marinade coats the surface of the fish. Leave it for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
Heat oil to 170C/338F in a deep-frying pan or a heavy-bottomed pot. The depth of the oil should be about the thickness of the mackerel pieces.
Pat dry fish pieces with paper towel. Place cornflour in a small bowl.
Coat several fish pieces with cornflour (note 4), then drop them into the oil. Deep fry for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Turn it over 2/3 of the way.
Transfer the fish pieces to a plate lined with a couple of layers of paper towels.
Repeat Steps 7 and 8 for the rest of the fish pieces.
Plate the fish pieces with lettuce, a sprig of parsley and a lemon wedge. Serve while hot (note 5).
1. Four fillets made from my two whole mackerel weighed about 400g/0.9lb. Small bones along the back bone also need to be removed.
2. Alternatively, cut the fillet into 3-4cm/1¼-¾" wide strips. As long as they are cut into bite-size pieces, that’s fine.
3. Mackerel flesh is soft and delicate. Picking the pieces up together using a knife prevents them from being damaged.
If you are using fish with firmer flesh such as king fish, you can use a zip lock bag to marinate.
4. It is important to coat the fish with cornflour just before deep frying. The number of fish pieces you can fry at one time depends on the size of the pot. Do not overcrowd the oil with the fish - fry in batches.
5. Mackerel Tatsuta Age is delicious even if it is at room temperature. But nothing beats freshly fried hot Tatsuta Age.
6. Nutrition per serving. It assumes that the vegetable oil absorbed into the fried mackerel is 6% of the weight of the mackerel. Garnish is not included..
serving: 115g calories: 282kcal fat: 20g (31%) saturated fat: 3.7g (19%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 4.5g monounsaturated fat: 9.8g cholesterol: 70mg (23%) sodium: 163mg (7%) potassium: 341mg (10%) carbohydrates: 4.8g (2%) dietary fibre: 0.4g (2%) sugar: 0.3g protein: 19g vitamin a: 4% vitamin c: 0.8% calcium: 1% iron: 9.9%