Mackerel Shioyaki And Vegetable Salad From Nobu West

Sakana Shioyaki (aka literally fish, salt-grilled) is a traditional Japanese method to cook fish.   I’ve done it many times before. This time I was curious to see what the combined flavors with a sherry vinaigrette dressed salad from Nobu West‘s recipe (p. 180) would be like.

Basically the recipe is set up in two parts – one for the fish (which tops the salad) and the salad itself.  Most of the effort, actually, goes into to preparing the salad.   For two people, I find I had to use:

1 large bell pepper (~5 1/4 oz, cut in half, remove stalk, seeds and internal ribs)
2 persian cucumbers (~5 3/4 oz total seeds removed)
1 large yellow squash (~6 oz stem and tail)
4 medium nappa leaves (quickly blanched and shocked)

~6oz of yellow squash

~6oz of yellow squash

~5 oz of cucumbers

~5 3/4oz of cucumbers

~5 1/4 oz of red bell pepper

~5 1/4 oz of red bell pepper

Quick blanch of nappa leaves in salted water

Quick blanch of nappa leaves in salted water

While the original recipe calls for using the nappa leaves raw, I chose to quick blanch the nappa leaves even after washing the leaves carefully since nappa can sometimes be notoriously dirty. Once all the vegetables had been cleaned, they to be cut into ~1/4″ dice placed into a mixing bowl and then dressed with 2

Dicing up the yellow squash

Dicing up the yellow squash

de-seeding the cucumber

de-seeding the cucumber

dicing up the red bell pepper with the seeds and the internal ribs removed

dicing up the red bell pepper with the seeds and the internal ribs removed

Nappa leaves in preparation for dicing

Nappa leaves in preparation for dicing

oz of extra virgin olive oil, an ounce of sherry vinegar and  1 tsp 4:1 salt/pepper mix.

frantoia extra virgin olive oil and Coumela sherry vinegar for the dressing

frantoia extra virgin olive oil and Columela sherry vinegar for the dressing

Before  dressing the salad, I combined the olive oil and vinegar and mixed them as best I could before drizzling it into the salad.  I gradually added 1/4 teaspoons of the salt/pepper mix into the salad, tasting as I went, until I decided 1 teaspoon (total) of the salt/pepper mix had seasoned the salad properly.

In preparing the fish – I was surprised to see the direction in brushing the fish with a little bit of olive oil.  While Whole Foods Newtonville only had the spanish mackerel, I went ahead and seasoned the fillet side of the mackerel with 4:1 salt/pepper mix and the the skin side only with salt after gently rubbing the fish with olive oil.

spanish mackerel fillets ready for the oven

spanish mackerel fillets ready for the oven

The spanish mackerel fillets went onto an oven tray with non-stick aluminum foil and then into the preheated countertop oven (set very high) to broil for about a minute a side.  Once that was done, the fish was turned back, skin-side up, to roast at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes.  The skin didn’t come out as crispy as I liked.

So I started plating by putting down a bed of the dressed diced salad onto the serving dishes and then topping the plates with the mackerel fillets.

Mackerel Shioyaki and Vegetable Salad

Mackerel Shioyaki and Vegetable Salad

The dish looked very pretty.  The mackerel, while the skin was not as crispy as I’d liked, had all the flavors I expected and was still moist and succulent.  The salad provided a wonderful counterpoint to the richness and assertiveness of the mackerel’s flavors as well as the fresh crunchy texture of the vegetables.  Admittedly, I was a little skeptical about pairing the sherry vinegar flavors with the mackerel, but it worked really well.

I’ve always thought that, when trying to achieve a crispy skin for fish, the fish skin really needs to be dried as much as possible.  When I do this dish again, I’m going to drop the olive oil brushing step on the skin and I bet the result will be exactly what I expected.

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