BBQ Grilled Pacific Saury – Sanma

BBQ Grilled Pacific Saury, also known as sanma, is a popular fish dish that is considered a staple of healthy Japanese cuisine. This fish is caught during the autumn season and is nicknamed the “autumn swordfish”. It is often grilled and served alongside traditional Japanese dishes as a flavorful accompaniment to your rice and miso soup. In certain cultures, this fish is also referred to as a mackerel pike.

BBQ grilled pacific saury Japanese sanma shioyaki being picked up with a pair of chopsticks.

How to make BBQ Grilled Pacific Saury Sanma?


  1. You start by patting the fish off with a paper towel and making a score on the top of the fish.
  2. From there sprinkle some salt, shio in Japanese, and grill or bake in the oven for 3.5 minutes per side at 350F.
  3. Serve with some soy sauce, grated daikon and lemon.

Pro Tip

You may want to avoid eating the dark section of the fish found on the bottom near the head of the fish. This is the guts and has a bitter taste when consumed.

BBQ grilled pacific saury Japanese sanma shioyaki served on a cast iron plate with a wedge of lemon and daikon, top down shot.

What ingredients do I need to make this Japanese grilled fish recipe?


  • Pacific Saury – found frozen and whole in Japanese supermarkets or most Asian supermarkets.
  • Salt sea salt preferred.
  • Soy Sauce – low-sodium Soy Sauce preferred. Can also use tamari for gluten-free.
  • Daikon – also known as Japanese radish. Grated and used as a topping.
  • Lemon – sliced fresh lemon.

Can you eat Pacific saury raw?

While Pacific Saury is not commonly eaten raw, it is technically possible to consume it in this way and occasionally offered as sashimi or nigiri sushi. However, it is important to note that Pacific saury consumed as sashimi or sushi needs to be processed very carefully to ensure it is safe to consume raw.

Other ways to enjoy Pacific saury include grilling, broiling, or pan-frying to enhance its delicious flavor.

Looking for other Japanese grilled fish recipes?

BBQ grilled pacific saury Japanese sanma shioyaki being picked up with a pair of chopsticks.

Watch How To Make It

BBQ grilled pacific saury Japanese sanma shioyaki being picked up with a pair of chopsticks.

BBQ Grilled Pacific Saury Sanma

Get ready to indulge in a savory delight with BBQ Grilled Pacific Saury, also known as Japanese Sanma shioyaki. The fish is grilled to perfection, resulting in a crispy exterior that gives way to a juicy and succulent flesh that is bursting with flavor!
5 from 5 votes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Japanese grilled fish, pacific saury, sanma fish, sanma shioyaki
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 1
Print Recipe
Calories: 13kcal


  • 1 Whole Pacific Saury
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Inch Daikon Japanese radish - optional
  • 1 Wedge Lemon optional


  • Gather all the ingredients.
  • Make a light horizontal cut along the center of fish (there is a thin darker silver line). Lightly sprinkle sea salt and repeat on the other side.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel off skin from optional Japanese radish (daikon) and then grate with a grater. Once grated, transfer to a serving plate.
  • Prepare optional lemon wedge and place on serving plate.
  • Preheat BBQ grill to 350F and oil as needed (if your grill is well seasoned, no need to oil). Once grill hits temp, reduce heat to medium-low and place Pacific Saury on the grill. Close lid and cook for 3.5 minutes. Once 3.5 minutes has passed, flip and cook for another 3.5 minutes or until the meat easily flakes off.
  • Transfer fish to a serving plate and drizzle Soy Sauce on top of grated Japanese radish. To enjoy, squeeze optional lemon onto fish, and eat fish meat with a little bit of the grated Japanese radish with Soy Sauce infused. Note - some people prefer only using Soy Sauce as well and foregoing the Japanese radish all together.
  • Here is the method we use to clear out most of the bones. First, take a knife and lightly cut through the same cut you made in step 2) (the knife should run along the backbone of the fish). Carefully flip the top meat away from the fish leaving the backbone and skin intact. Do the same with the bottom half. On the bottom piece, cut away the darker meat of the fish making sure your knife is under the bones/ribs. Next, remove the backbone with your fingers or utensils, and pull away the top and bottom half again from fish and skin. The top half should already be boneless and repeat cutting off darker meat for the bottom half again. You should now have 4 fillets that are boneless and you can discard the rest of the fish away. Note - you can also eat the belly meat by scraping off the darker subsistence and ribs bones from the meat, but it does require a little more work to pick out the bones.


Calories: 13kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 962mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 10mg | Iron: 1mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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