Japanese Seasonal Fish: Sawara/Spanish Mackerel

The Japan Blog List

Please check Shizuoka Gourmet Blog for all the gastronomy in Shizuoka Prefecture!



Sawara or Spanish Mackerel is considered as the best kind of Mackerel in Japan. Not only it is a big variety, but its comparatively white flesh is succulent in almost any kind of cooking!

It is known under different names such as Sagoshi and Sagochi when young and Yanagi when mature.
It is basically caught by trawling, but can be fished by line. It is, unlike other mackerels, a pretty solitary fish.

It is caught widely around Japan, off Russia, China and Korea.
The total catch has varied in recent years, but thanks to import, including 21.000 tonnes from China, it has become a feature in season from late Autumn to end of Spring.

(Kan-Sawara at Uzu, Shizuoka City)

In Winter, it is called Kan Sawara/寒鰆 (寒stands for cold, 鰆 stands for Sawara/Spring Fish) and is a sought after morsel. In Shizuoka it is sometimes caught then in Sagara bay, and I can tell you it disappears quickly form the table.

(Sawara at Uzu, Shizuoka City)

Later in Spring, it is just called Sawara and is leaner.


It can be cooked in many ways: broiled as above.


Or grilled.

(Small pic, sorry!)

Of Course, as sushi nigiri! Especially Kan Sawara!

4 thoughts on “Japanese Seasonal Fish: Sawara/Spanish Mackerel”

  1. Thanks for this. I’m taking a group to Tokyo & Kyoto in a few weeks and was double-checking on seasonal fish and, well, that’s how I found this site. I’ve lived in Japan twice and get there on business or otherwise 2-3 times a year, but — to my great embarrassment — have yet to develop a true understanding of what to order when, i.e., which season is best for which fish. I always ask restaurant owners/managers when in Japan and take their advice and even write it down . . . then promptly forget and have to start all over again next trip. One of these days I’ll get it down pat, perhaps.

    Anyway, 鰆インフォーにありがとう!

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