Dish of the Day: Saba Shioyaki Bento

Dish of the Day: Saba Shioyaki Bento

What Is Saba Shioyaki Bento?

Saba Shioyaki Bento is a Japanese dish of Salted, Grilled Mackerel and is served as part of a bento (packed lunch). The mackerel is first salted and chilled overnight and grilled the next morning. It is commonly eaten as a breakfast meal but can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

History Of Saba Shioyaki Bento

It is fairly simple to prepare, making it a delicious meal to make at home. It is served with steamed rice, miso soup and salad in a bento. Bento is home-packed meal for one or more and there are various types from disposable to handcrafted ones. You can find these all over Japan such as in convenience stores and even railway stations.

This interesting dish has a long history of being a traditional meal that is usually prepared at home for their family members who are going to work or attending school. It is a tradition that can be traced back to the year 1100, when cooked rice was brought to work in a small lunch box.

It is ingrained in Japanese culture that mothers are usually the ones preparing bento for their children to bring to school. Since bento is made up of little meal pockets, they are often pre-made from the night before. It is even expected that they create balanced meal that are pleasing to the eyes.

Saba is the Japanese word that means mackerel. Shioyaki is made up of two words shio, meaning salt and yaki meaning grilling. There is a special trick to preparing the dish. As you might have noticed, Japanese rice wine, sake is used in most Japanese recipes, and this is no exception. Sake is used to tenderise the fish, bring out its flavour when it is mixed with other ingredients as well as to remove any fishy odour.

Salt is not only used to season but to soak up the water from the fish. Sprinkle the mackerel with a bit of salt and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Do not let it sit for more or less or it’ll either be too salty or too bland.

Recipe Of Saba Shioyaki Bento


  • 10z of mackerel
  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce (to serve)
  • 1 wedge lemon


  1. Gather all your ingredients.
  2. Coat the mackerel with 2 tablespoons of sake.
  3. Pat it dry with a paper towel and place it on a baking sheet with parchment paper
  4. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt on both sides. Set it aside to rest for 20 minutes. While this is happening, preheat the oven to 200°c.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until it is golden brown.


  1. You can choose to garnish it with grated radish.

Nutritional Information For Saba Shioyaki Bento

Depending on which type of rice you choose, whether it is white or brown rice, it can contain different nutritional values. Brown rice compared to white rice, has more high in fibre.

Mackerel offers a great source of protein so much so that one fillet can give about 20.8 grams of protein. You will be able to get sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids for your daily requirement.

There is no frying needed for the recipe. Mackerel is considered to be an oily fish although it falls on the good fats spectrum, unlike saturated fat that is not good for you.

Where To Find Saba Shioyaki Bento In Malaysia

Saba Shioyaki Bento can be easily found at any Japanese restaurants in Malaysia. Here is a list of restaurants you can visit to get a taste of the hearty meal.

  1. Sushi King
  2. Sushi Zanmai
  3. Rakuzen

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Article Written By Anna

Anna is an absolute foodie, and lives by the motto that food is happiness. She is a writer by day and a gamer by night. She believes that good food comes from all over and is constantly amazed by the passion and dedication it takes to make food that warms the soul.

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