Pacific Saury, known as "Sanma" in Japan (sometimes called the "Mackeral Pike") and is a type of fish beloved in Japan. The fish start to swim down to the south of Japan in large shoals near Tokyo, where they mass offshore between September and October.
If you happen to be in Japan in the Autumn months, then you are in for a great treat, experiencing the wide ranging diversity of wonderful foods available after the summer harvest. The Japanese say that Autumn is the best season for culinary delights to titillate and please the palate, making use of the abundance of ingredients provided by nature.
There are many kinds of fish which seem to taste greater at this time of the year, along with earthy vegetables such as exquisite mushrooms, roasted chestnuts and fruits that are evocative of the cooler, darker days to come and reflect the autumnal season perfectly.
Sanma is one of the great seasonal foods at this time of year and its popularity is enhanced by its low price, nutritional benefits and great taste.
Many villages and towns throughout Japan hold a "Sanma festival" to celebrate the arrival of this fish bounty, and barbecued Sanma are often given away on the street to passers by and people celebrating the season.
During the Japanese Edo period, people loved the Sanma season, and generation after generation passed on their experience of the benefits of this nourishing food. They knew that once you start eating Sanma in the autumn, you were going to reap the medicinal (nutritional) as well as the culinary benefits of eating this delicious fish. Modern medicine backs this belief as Sanma are extremely nutritional, with Iron, Vitamins A, B2 and D, Calcium, EPA and DNA.
Many people consider the best way to enjoy Sanma is just to simply grill and flavour the fish with salt.
To make a good barbecued Sanma, first salt the fish on both sides and leave it for around 15 mins. Place it in a fish holder and grill it over a medium heat, make sure that you are not too close to the heat to give the best result, you don't want the fish to burn.
サンマ 2尾、塩 4〜5g
A 昆布だし汁 2カップ弱
Vegetable oil or vinegar
Eringi mushroom 2
Kombu dashi (dried kelp stock) just under 2 cups
Light soysauce 2 tablespoons
Sake 2 tablespoons
Kombu (the one used to make the stock) 1 of 3x6 cm
Green Spring Onion 2