The Princess and HB love broiled mackerel and hamachi shioyaki, which is a blessing for me. I love the fact they’re both easy to prepare and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (great for heart health).
Mackerel tends to be a smelly and oily fish so some people might not like it. However, hamachi is less smelly; the meat around the collar is among the tenderest and tastiest you can imagine. The Princess has a very discriminating palette, so if she likes it, it has to be good.
Where to buy. I usually go to my neighborhood Korean grocery, pick out a whole mackerel (koh-doong-ah), and have them remove the head, cut it down lengthwise, and remove the guts. I know some people love the meat around the head—the cheeks and whatnot—but the Princess is a bit squeamish to have food staring back at her, so I’ve decided to spare ourselves the drama and stick with everything else below the neck. The person behind the counter will ask if you’d like it salted. I usually prefer salting it myself. No matter what, buy fresh. Fish from the freezer is just not the same!
I’ve only recently found the hamachi collar at Mitsuwa (a nearby Japanese grocery store), which is a godsend. Normally we’d only be able to have hamachi shioyaki at our local favorite Japanese restaurant, Akai Hana, but it’d usually get costly once you add the rest of the meal and drinks to the tab. HB was impressed when I made the hamachi shioyaki—said it tasted even better than at the restaurant.
For the salt, I generally prefer grinding my own rock salt/sea salt over the fish. I found a neat pink Himalayan salt at Trader Joe’s which comes with the grinder. In a pinch, I might use kosher salt, but stay away from ye old iodized table salt—it’s just not the same.
Mama Sophia’s Broiled Fish
Fish (hamachi collar or mackerel filets)
Rock salt or sea salt
1) Preheat oven to broil.
2) Rinse fish and dry off with paper towels. (This step is important to ensure a crispy skin)
3) Line broiling pan with foil or parchment paper. Place fish on pan and generously grind salt over fish on both sides.
4) Make sure skin side is down when putting fish in oven. Broil first side for 7 to 10 minutes, flip, and then broil skin side for 7 to 10 minutes. Adjust for time as required. You’ll know the skin side is ready when it’s nice and blistery-crispy looking.
5) Serve immediately. Squeeze lemon wedges if you’d like. Or, serve with a bit of memmi sauce, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a dash of rice vinegar on the side.
1) We generally eat fish with steamed rice and vegetables (stir-fry green beans and/or steamed broccoli). And kimchee, of course.
2) The skin on the hamachi is to die for. I don’t care about mercury or lead poisoning. It’s that good!
3) If you find the lingering fishy odor annoying, here’s a neat trick I read in The Deluxe Food Lovers Companion by Sharon and Ron Herbst. “Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small, heavy saucepan (lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil to save on cleanup) and cook over medium heat until the sugar is liquid and caramelized. Let cook a few minutes (don’t burn!) until the caramel odor permeates the air. After the caramel cools, simply lift out the foil and discard.”
4) Although my preference have been getting fresh vs. deep frozen hamachi collars, I was told by the man behind the fish counter at Mitsuwa to try the deep-frozen wild hamachi collars sometime. He said that they are higher in nutrients and more flavorful. I’m guessing the fish that I’d been buying was farm-raised.