Siakyo Yaki Fish is marinated in seasoned sweet miso, Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade, and grilled perfectly. Saikyo Yaki Fish is served at good Japanese restaurants around the world, but you can make it at home at a fraction of the cost.
Saikyo Yaki (西京焼き) is the grilled fish or meat dish you get after you marinate the fish/meat in the Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade that I posted separately. The marinade is a mixture of Saikyo miso, sake, mirin and sugar. It is pretty simple to make and the flavour is just as good as the dishes you get at Japanese restaurants.
Fish Suitable for Saikyo Yaki
The most popular and best suited fish (in my view) for Saikyo Yaki is black cod (sablefish). The famous restaurants often serve a Saikyo yaki dish with black cod. The flesh has a high fat content and the texture is flaky when cooked. The combination of the sweet miso flavour and oily flaky fish is so perfect.
I don’t know about your country, but in Sydney I cannot buy fresh black cod. So I usually marinate either Spanish mackerel or salmon instead. They are not as oily as black cod, but they are oilier than other fish.
In today’s recipe, I also added a fillet of blue eye cod. The cod is not oily but the flaky texture is similar to that of black cod. I also tried ocean perch, which was good too. I read somewhere on a Japanese website that pomfret fillet works well too. I must try that.
Fish Fillet vs Fish Cutlet/Steak Cut
In Japan, it is common to slice the side of the fish diagonally instead of cutting it straight down the way the Western-style fish fillet is cut. The thickness of the diagonally sliced fillet is usually 1.5-2cm/⅝-¼”.
The diagonal cut increases surface areas and there is far less skin on the fillet than the Western-style fillet. For this very reason, I think the diagonal cut is more suitable for marinating fish fillets.
Diagonally sliced fish fillets are not sold at fish markets in my area, so I make two fillets out of a fish cutlet/steak. See the photo below that I also included in my first salmon dish Japanese Salmon Mirin-zuke. Each fillet is not diagonally sliced but the thickness and the surface area of the flesh is close enough.
If you have a side of large fish, you can make Japanese-style fillets. But if you can’t get the diagonally sliced fish fillet, the two fillets made from a cutlet/steak cut like the above are the second best.
If you can only buy a filet of fish, pick a very thick filet and slice it into 1.5-2cm/⅝-¼” crosswise so that each slice comes with skin.
Marinating Saikyo Yaki Fish
To marinate the fish you only need Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade (in the separate recipe). Spread half of the miso marinade in a container, place the fish fillets over it without overlapping, then cover the fish with the remaining miso marinade.
If you can, use a sheet of muslin around the fish when marinating, then coat with the miso (see the photo below). It is an extra step, but when you are ready to cook you will be thankful you did a little extra up front because you don’t need to scrape the miso off the fish when grilling. See the bottom left photo below. No miso is stuck on the fish.
If you don’t have muslin, you don’t need to use it. But remove the miso from the surface of the fish as much as possible before grilling, otherwise the miso will burn quickly due to the sugar in the miso marinade.
Marinating time is 1-3 days, preferably 3 days. I tested different marinating times and found that:
- 1 day is OK but the flavour does not penetrate the fish sufficiently.
- 2 days is pretty good but
- if you can plan 2 days ahead, you might as well plan 3 days ahead and you will get more depth of flavour.
Little secret to Grilling Saikyo Yaki Fish
I often use a Japanese Fish Griller, which comes with a metal tray with slits and a holder to secure the fish that goes over the tray. But when I feel a bit lazy, I grill the fish on a tray with scrunched up aluminium foil. Beauty of using scrunched aluminium foil is that the fish does not stick to the bottom when trying to turn it over!
You will need a large piece of aluminium foil that is about 2 times longer than the width of the tray that goes under the oven griller/broiler. Scrunch the foil then spread it to fit in the tray.
Gently place the fish on the foil and place it under the grill/broiler. The distance from the heat should be about 10cm/4″.
Saikyo miso marinated fish freezes well before grilling (about 1 months) and after grilling (about 2 weeks). I marinate many fish pieces at once and freeze most of them after 1 day of marinating. If you are freezing the fish after 3 days of marinating, remove the miso from the fish and freeze.
You can also re-use the miso marinade once more.
P.S. 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 the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Fish marinated in seasoned sweet miso, Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade, and grilled perfectly. Saikyo Yaki Fish is served at good Japanese restaurants around the world but you can make it at home at a fraction of the cost. It is pretty simple to make and the flavour is just as good.
Preparation time does not include the time to marinate the fish, which is 1-3 days.
- 300g/10.1oz Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade
- 1 salmon cutlet (steak), 260g/9.2oz
- 1 Spanish mackerel cutlet (steak), 230g/8.1oz
- 1 blue eye cod fillet , 290g/10.2oz, about 5 cm/2” wide
- A tray or a shallow container with a flat bottom that the fish can be placed in without overlapping
- 2 muslin pieces cut to the size of the tray
- Shiso (Japanese perilla leaves)
- Pickled ginger
Cut salmon and Spanish mackerel cutlets into two portions each by cutting the flesh along the bones, starting from the top (the dorsal side). Please visit my post Japanese Salmon Mirin-zuke (Mirin Marinade), which explains how to cut it, including photos.
Slice the blue eye cod down the middle to make two thin fillets.
Sprinkle a pinch of salt over each of the fish pieces and leave for 1 hour, during which excess moisture in the fish comes out.
Pat dry using kitchen paper to remove the moisture.
Spread half of the Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade in the tray evenly and cover the entire surface of the miso mixture with a piece of muslin.
Place the fish pieces on the miso mixture without overlapping each other, then place the other piece of muslin over all of the fish. Cover the fish with the remaining miso mixture and evenly spreading the miso mixture.
Using a thin spatula, press along the inside wall of the tray to ensure that the miso mixture covers the sides of the fish pieces. Trace along the gap between the fish pieces with the spatula and ensure that the miso mixture goes in between the fish pieces.
Cover the tray with a lid (if it comes with one) or aluminium foil/cling wrap and leave it for minimum 1 day, preferably 3 days in the fridge (note 5).
Pre-heat the grill.
Cut aluminium foil to 60cm length and scrunch it gently, then spread it over a baking tray.
Gently remove the upper layer of muslin from the fish tray gently by folding towards one side. Take the fish out and place them on the scrunched aluminium foil.
Place the tray under the oven grill. The distance between the heat and the fish should be about 10cm (4”). If the grill is too close to the fish, the fish will burn before it is cooked.
Cook for 4-5 minutes until the edge of the fish starts burning. Turn it over and cook further 3-4 minutes (note 6).
Remove the fillets from the grill and place them on the serving plate.
Add garnish if using and serve immediately.
1. I used three kinds of fish to show you how each fish comes out but you can use one kind of fish instead. The size of the fish can be different, too.
In the case of the fillet, I recommend slicing it into thinner fillets otherwise one side of the fillet is covered with the skin and the marinade does not penetrate well.
2. Instead of marinating the fish in a tray, you could use a large plastic bag. In this case, you would have to wrap each piece of fish with muslin so that you can put all the fish and the miso mixture in a bag. Mix well to cover every piece of fish with miso.
You don’t need to use muslin to marinate the fish. The muslin is used simply to avoid the miso mixture sticking to the fish. If you are not using muslin, you need to make sure that the miso mixture is wiped off the fish before grilling. Otherwise the fish will burn quickly due to the sweet miso on it.
4. You can buy shiso leaves at Japanese grocery stores. I used shiso leaves merely to give colour to the dish. You could use a large green leaf from your garden instead.
Pickled ginger is thinly sliced ginger marinated in sugar and vinegar. It is usually served when you order sushi. It refreshes the palate. You can buy pickled ginger at Asian/Japanese grocery stores.
I used a tiny radish for the salmon Saikyo Yaki for a change. To make the tiny flower, slice the radish thinly leaving the bottom part of the radish intact, then slice again in the same way perpendicular to the first cut. Cut the radish into two, sprinkle with salt and gently press down and spread to make it look like tiny petals. Rinse off the salt.
5. You can freeze the marinated fish. After marinating the fish for 1 day, freeze it together with the miso. When I know that I am going to freeze the fish, I usually wrap it with muslin individually then marinate. After 1 day of marinating, take each piece of fish and some miso mixture into a small freezer bag as if it is marinated individually, then freeze.
6. Cooking time varies depending on the grill and the thickness of the fish. The fish I cooked was 1.5 - 2.5cm (½ - 1”) thick. You could also grill on a BBQ or a grill pan over medium heat. Watch the fish as it could burn very fast.
Alternatively, marinate 3 days, remove miso from the fish, then freeze.
7. Nutrition per serving assuming a Spanish mackerel is served. Nutrition values varies slightly depending on the fish. E.g. the same amount of salmon contains more fat and higher calories.
The amount of marinade consumed should be minimal but for the calculation purposes, it is assumed that 20% of miso marinade is consumed.
serving: 127g calories: 184kcal fat: 7.8g (12%) saturated fat: 2.2g (11%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 2.3g monounsaturated fat: 1.9g cholesterol: 87mg (29%) sodium: 538mg (22%) potassium: 534mg (15%) carbohydrates: 3.4g (1%) dietary fibre: 0.5g (2%) sugar: 1.4g protein: 23g vitamin a: 3.2% vitamin c: 3.1% calcium: 1.4% iron: 4.2%
Originally published in November 2016. Rewritten in July 2019, split into two posts and recipes - Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade (new) and this post, contents updated with Meal Ideas.