You wouldn’t normally think of having fish for breakfast, but in Japan, it’s pretty common. So is the cooking technique to prepare and make the fish, called shioyaki, which translates to “salt-grilled.”
If you hear someone say they are having shioyaki for breakfast (or really any other time of day), it could mean salmon, mackerel, Ayu (sweetfish), sardines, Pacific saury, seabream and many other types of fish. It is the cooking method that the name implies, and it’s really a rather simple technique.
Essentially, you select whatever type of fish you plan on having, salt it and let it sit overnight. Then, in the morning, you grill it or bake it in the oven.
Sounds simple, right? In theory, yes, but there are still a few important guidelines to follow when making shioyaki. For starters, you want to be sure the fish is fresh and cleaned properly. Common sense, right?
Salting the Fish
When salting the fish, you’ll want to use organic sea salt for the best flavor and least amount of processing and impurities. If you really want to get creative with the salt, you can opt for smoked salt, which is often found in several varieties. For example, a chardonnay smoked salt would pair very nicely with many types of fish.
Note: Look for different varieties of smoked salt at a local spice shop.
You don’t need to drench the fish in salt — just a good sprinkle along the entire piece of fish will do. However, you might want to add extra salt to the fins and tail to prevent them from overcooking and getting charred.
Let the fish sit overnight in the refrigerator, uncovered. In the morning, you can choose the cooking method you feel most comfortable with.
Cooking the Fish
If cooking on a flame grill, it is important not to grill the fish directly over the flame. Indirect heat will produce a juicer fish with crispy skin. If cooking a whole fish, turn the fish over when the eye turns white.
You can also opt to bake it in the oven, or in foil packets. Looking up recipes for shioyaki will likely yield a slew of results. One popular recipe that would be good to try is this salmon shioyaki.
And after you’ve tried shioyaki, you may find it hard to grow accustomed to having fish for breakfast, but no doubt you’ll want to enjoy it prepared and cooked this way many times for dinner!