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Nanbanzuke (Marinated Fried Fish)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
When bite size pieces of deep fried fish are marinated in slightly sweet vinegar and soy based sauce with plenty of shredded vegetables, it transforms the fish into something totally different. It keeps well in the fridge and is usually served cold or at room temperature. Perfect in hot summer and for lunch boxes. 

Total Time does not include time to marinate.

Recipe Type: Appetiser, Main, Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 2 - 3 as Main
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 60 g (2.1oz) carrot julienned into 2mm (1/16") thick, 5 cm long pieces (note 1)
  • 60 g (2.1oz) cucumber julienned into 3mm (⅛") thick, 5cm long pieces (note 1)
  • 90 g (3.2oz) onion, cut into half then thinly sliced 2mm (1/16") thick crosswise
  • 1 dried red chilli deseeded , finely chopped (note 2)
  • 250 g (0.5lb) mackerel fillet, cut into large bite size pieces (note 3)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Oil to fry fish
  • 3 tbsp dashi stock
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • tbsp sugar
  1. Put marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Put carrot, cucumber and onion into a large deep plate or a non-metal baking dish and add the marinade mixture. Mix vegetables well.
  3. Heat oil in a small saucepan (note 4) to 170-180C (338-356F). The depth of the oil should be twice as deep as the thickness of the fish.
  4. Place fish pieces into a small bowl, add flour and toss to coat the fish with flour evenly. Shake off excess flour.
  5. Drop each fish piece one by one into the oil and fry them for 1.5 – 2 minutes until the fish becomes golden brown and cooked through. Cook few pieces at a time. (note 5)
  6. Remove the fish onto a paper towel lined plate to drain oil for 5-10 seconds, then place it straight into the marinade while still hot. Repeat with the remaining fish pieces.
  7. Turn the fish fillets over to coat them with marinade and cover them with some vegetables.
  8. Marinate for minimum 15 minutes, preferably overnight in the fridge.
  9. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

1. I usually slice them diagonally into 5cm long ovals, then julienne them. This method is particularly good for cucumbers as the green part comes on both ends of the stick for every piece.

2. I find that chopping dried chilli into round pieces using a knife is difficult as the dry skin tends to break. I use a pair of kitchen scissors which works well.

You can use fresh chilli if you like. If you are sensitive to hot chilli, omit it.

3. You don’t need to use mackerel fillet. I sometimes buy yellow tail as they are usually quite cheap. You can use other fish fillets such as Spanish mackerel, king fish, or any white flesh fish suitable for deep frying.

In the case of mackerel/yellowtail, I cut the fillet diagonally to show more flesh on the surface. The width of the skin is 2.5-3cm (1-1¼”). This will penetrate more flavours into the fish pieces. But you can just cut it straight down into bite size pieces if you like.

4. I suggest that you use a small saucepan so that you don’t need to use a lot of oil. My saucepan was 16cm (6¼”) in diameter. But if you don’t mind using a large quantity of oil, use a large fry pan. Then you will be able to fry more pieces at once.

5. Please do not fry too many pieces at once as the temperature of the oil drops too much and you won’t be able to make crispy fried fish. I fried a few pieces at a time in my small saucepan.