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5 from 3 votes
Sakamushi (酒蒸し, steamed in sake) Fish is a very authentic Japanese dish and sometimes served in kaiseki-ryori (multi-course haute cuisine). In a nutshell: White-fleshed fish is steamed with plenty of sake (酒, Japanese rice wine). This is a very simple method of cooking fish but the flavour of fish is amazing. It will make you feel like you are having a dish at a high-class restaurant!
Sakamushi Fish (Steamed Fish in Sake)
Prep Time
1 hr 10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 25 mins
Sakamushi (酒蒸し, seamed in sake) is a very authentic Japanese dish and is sometimes served in kaiseki-ryori (multi-course haute cuisine). White-fleshed fish is steamed in plenty of sake (酒, Japanese rice wine). It’s such a simple method of cooking fish but the flavour is amazing. This will make you feel like you are having a dish at a high-class restaurant! Prep time is long but the majority of time (1 hour) comes from the time leaving the fish after salted.
Recipe Type: Starter
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 2
Calories: 233 kcal
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 2 ocean perch fillets , 90g each, skin on with small bones removed (Note 1)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 pieces of 5cm/2" square konbu (kelp)
  • 80ml (2.7oz) sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 500ml (17oz) hot water boiled to 95C/205F
  • 500 ml/17oz water
Vegetables (Note 2)
  • 4 thin stems of broccolini , cut into half lengths
  • 4 shimeji mushroom stems (Note 3)
To serve
  • Ponzu (Note 4)
  1. Cut each fillet into two equal pieces. Make cross slits in each fillet where the flesh is the thickest.
  2. Sprinkle with the salt on both sides of the fillets and leave them for 1 hour.
  3. Combine sake and konbu sheets into a small bowl and leave for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Place the konbu sheets onto a plate which you will use in the steamer. Try not to overlap each konbu. Do not discard the sake.
  5. Place the fish fillets into a separate deep pan or a bowl. Gently pour the boiled water from the side of the bowl. The filets will start becoming white, ie. blanching. Imeediately after adding the boiled water, quickly add the cold water to reduce the temperature of the water in the bowl (to stop the cooking).
  6. Remove the fillets, removing scum from the blanching in the bowl. Pat dry the fillets with a paper towel. Place each fillet on a konbu sheet, without overlapping the fillets.
  7. Pour the sake over the fish ensuring that each fillet is covered with sake.
  8. Turn the steamer on high. Once water is boiling and steaming, place the plate of the fish on the steamer. Steam for 5 minutes, with a lid on. (Note 5)
  9. Add vegetables around the fish, place the lid back on and steam for a further 2 minutes.
  10. When done, remove the plate from the steamer. Place two cooked konbu sheets, then two fillet pieces onto a serving bowl or a plate. Arrange half of the broccolini and shimeji mushrooms on the side of the fish. Repeat the same for another serving.
  11. Pour sake juice left on the steaming plate over the fish (Note 6). Serve immediately with ponzu.
Recipe Notes

1. You can use other white meat fish fillets such as snapper, cod, jewfish, bream. The fillets should have skin on, so that it adds to the colour to the dish.

You could serve a larger portion of fish if you like.Just increase the amount of konbu and sake accordingly.

2. You could use other vegetables suitable for steaming. Beans, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus might be good. The amount of vegetables can also vary but you need to think about the balance against the size of the fish fillet.

In my view, mushy vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkins are not best suited for this dish, nor vegetables with strong flavours such as capsicum.

Depending on the colour of the fish, you may want to change the choice of vegetables. For example, if you are steaming cod, you may add sliced carrots to add a bright colour to the dish. If you cut the carrots into flower shapes as explained in my post, Sanshoku Bento, it would look pretty.

3. If each stem is small, you may take a couple of stems together as one.

4. Please refer to the recipe to make ponzu in Japanese Dressings. I would strongly recommend that you make it at home. Ponzu can keep a long time in the fridge. The longer you keep it the better the flavour gets.

But if you wish, you can buy a bottle of ponzu from Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

5. The time taken to cook the fish fillets will depend on the strength of the steaming as well as the thickness of the fillet. My fish was about 1.5-2cm (5/8-3/4”) thick and steam was on high.

6. The sake liquid from cooking contains tons of flavour with the konbu and fish so don’t discard. But you might find that you would only need half of what’s left on the steaming plate.