We went to the Asian store on the weekend and found Pacific Saury in the frozen section. It was our first time to find it so I quickly bought three packs to bring home.
Also known as mackerel pike or sanma (= autumn knife fish in Japanese) or kongchi (Korean), this fish is a highly sought after by Japanese, Russian, Korean and Taiwanese. It is a seasonal food in Japan and Korea. In the autumn months, starting with September, mackarel pike starts to accumulate a lot of fat in preparation for the cold winter. This is the best time to harvest them from the open seas. The fish is usually flash frozen as soon as it is caught to preserve its freshness.
Sanma is rich in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acids considered to be heart-healthy. Currently, the Mood Disorders Center at Baylor College of Medicine is studying if omega-3 fatty acids can make a difference in preventing mood swings in bipolar disorders. Some reports indicate a correlation between low levels of DHA in diet with Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study published in the scientific journal Cancer Letters suggests that dietary DHA can also suppress primary colon cancer tumors in mice.
In my experience, sanma is best prepared lightly salted then grilled/ broiled. I drizzle lemon juice over it and serve it with fresh, juicy tomatoes and cilantro. This is a minimalist approach but the fish has a clean taste and is really delicious this way! If you get the chance, I suggest you should give it a try. P.S. In Asia, fish is served with head and tail to symbolize good luck. If you prefer, you may trim off the head before grilling.
mackerel pike (gutted)
cilantroLightly salt the thawed fish five minutes before grilling. Grill over charcoal or use an electric grill. When the fish is brown on one side and you can easily lift it without sticking, flip the fish over to cook the other side. Serve with lemon slices, tomatoes and cilantro.