RECIPE: Fried Saba (Mackerel) and Broccoli with a Ketchup Soy Sauce

  • 2 min read
RECIPE: Fried Saba (Mackerel) and Broccoli with a Ketchup Soy Sauce


In Japan, home-style cooking is called “ofukuro no aji” which literally means “Mom's taste”. Packed with vegetables and made with simple ingredients, this comforting and hearty recipe for fried saba is an excellent example of “ofukuro no aji.” 

This recipe starts with preparing the saba for frying. Saba (mackerel) is one of the most popular fish in Japanese cuisine. It has a light texture and is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. To begin, season the saba with salt and pepper, wait 10 minutes while the salt draws out moisture, then wipe off the excess liquid. This step helps to ensure that the fish is dry enough to crisp up. 

Next, we coat the saba in flour, which forms a starchy shell that will brown and become crunchy. If you don’t have flour on hand, potato starch or cornstarch can be used in place. Then, fry the saba skin-side down. Once cooked, move it to the side and begin to add the remaining ingredients and seasonings to the pan.  

This recipe calls for broccoli and tomato, but feel free to throw in any additional vegetables that you’d like. Zucchini, spinach, eggplant, and even corn would all work well! Stir-fry the vegetables until soft, then add in the seasonings: ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar. The condiments will caramelize, creating a delicious sweet and salty flavor, while the acidity of the vinegar will cut through any “fishy” flavor from the saba. Finally, finish by thickening the sauce with a slurry of potato starch and water. 

Made in just one pan, this home-style saba dish can be served with steamed rice for an easy, quick, and balanced meal.


Servings: 2

  • 350g mackerel 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour (to coat the mackerel)
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup broccoli (diced)
  • 1 tomato (medium-sized, diced)
  • 1/2 tsp potato starch
  • 1 tsp water


  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp soy sauce*
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water


  1. Season mackerel with salt and pepper. Wait for 10 mins. Wipe away any excess water and sprinkle with flour. 
  2. Add oil to a pan and fry the mackerel on medium heat with the skin side down. When the skin browns, flip the mackerel and move to the side of the pan. Add broccoli to the center of pan.
  3. When the whole mackerel turns brown, add the tomato and fry everything together.
  4. Add the seasoning ingredients and mix well.
  5. Add the potato starch and water and stir until thick. Serve hot and enjoy!

*Available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package


Introduction courtesy of Britney Budiman

Britney Budiman

Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.

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