Sakana no nitsuke is a delicious fish dish simmered in a flavourful sauce consisting of classic Japanese ingredients such as soy sauce, sake, mirin and ginger. This recipe can be used for all different kinds of fish, it's a must try for fish lovers!
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Sakana no Nitsuke
What is Sakana no Nitsuke?
Sakana no nitsuke is a classic way to cook fish in Japan. The word sakana (魚) means fish and nitsuke (煮つけ) means "to simmer".
You can use a whole fish or fillet for this recipe.
Japanese simmered fish is most commonly served with white rice, miso soup and a vegetable side dish.
Sakana no nitsuke sauce
In sakana no nitsuke, the fish is always simmered in a traditional Japanese style sauce that contains the following ingredients:
- Soy sauce
- Fresh ginger
I use Japanese brand Kikkoman soy sauce and mirin in my recipe.
The ratio of each ingredient vary from recipe to recipe, but these are the key ingredients you will need. I usually try to recommend alternatives (for example, dry sherry for sake etc) but for Sakana no Nitsuke, I think it's important to maintain an authentic Japanese flavour and stick to proper Japanese ingredients.
Types of fish used for Sakana no Nitsuke
I know, "simmered fish" is a pretty vague name, right? But that's because you can use many kinds of fish for this recipe!
First, we blanch the fish which means swilling it in freshly boiled water, then we wash it under cold water. This method removes any unpleasant fishy-ness and improves the taste. It's then simmered in the Japanese sauce which compliments and improves the taste even more!
Here is a list of some fish I'd recommend using for Sakana no Nitsuke:
This is definitely not an exclusive list, just some ideas! Sakana no Nitsuke is usually best made with white fish. Let me know in the comments if you have success with other kinds of fish!
In this recipe, I'll be using a traditional Japanese cooking tool. It's called an "otoshibuta". Let me tell you more about it and why we use it.
What is an Otoshibuta drop-lid?
An Otoshibuta (落し蓋) is a traditional Japanese cooking tool used for simmering. The word "otoshi" (落し) means to drop, and futa (蓋) becomes "buta" which means lid. The small round lid sits on top the simmering liquid, helping evenly distribute the heat around the food.
When the liquid is bubbling, the drop lid prevents large bubbles (the weight and contact with the liquid simply pops them) so delicate ingredients such as flakey fish are far less likely to break.
Drop lids are usually made from wood, but stainless steal and silicone drop lids are also popular. The size of the steel ones can often be adjusted to fit different pans too!
If you want to try making your own otoshibuta with baking paper, check out my step by step instructions here!
I hope you enjoy this delicious Japanese style of cooking fish! And if you liked this dish, you might like some of the other fish recipes on my blog.Print
Step by step recipe
Sakana no Nitsuke (Japanese simmered fish)
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 2 portions 1x
How to make Sakana no Nitsuke (Japanese simmered fish). A delicious fish dish simmered in a flavourful sauce made from soy sauce, sake, mirin and ginger.
- 2 fillets of fish
- 2 Pinches salt
- 20g fresh ginger
- 1 bowl of freshly boiled water
- 1 bowl of ice cold water
- 150ml water
- 150ml sake
- 45 ml mirin (3 tbsp)
- 30g sugar (2 ½ tbsp)
- 50ml soy sauce
- ⅓ bunch of "Komatsuna" Japanese mustard spinach (You could also use regular spinach or bok choi instead)
- First, sprinkle the fish fillets with a pinch of salt on both sides and leave for 10 minutes.
- Cut the fresh ginger into 2mm thick slices.
- After 10 minutes, cut a cross or 2-3 diagonal lines on the skin. (If you're using a whole fish, cut both sides.)
- Take two bowls, fill one with freshly boiled water and the other with ice cold water.
- Swill the fish in the boiling water for 5 seconds, then transfer to the ice water. Remove the fish and dry with a paper towel.
- Pour 150ml water, 150ml sake, 50ml of mirin and 30g of sugar into a pan.
- Turn the heat on medium and stir.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, add the fish and ginger slices.
- Place your drop lid (instructions in post) on top of the fish and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Peel back the drop lid and pour 1 tbsp of soy sauce over the fish, spoon the liquid in the pan over the fish. Once the soy sauce is incorporated into the rest of the sauce, repeat this process twice more. (3 tbsp of soy sauce in total.)
- Return the drop lid to it's original position and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Cut the Japanese mustard spinach into 5cm (2 inch) pieces and bring a small pot of water to the boil.
- Add Japanese mustard spinach to the boiling water and boil until softened. (About 1 minute)
- Continue to spoon the sauce over the fish until the liquid is reduced to one third.
- Serve the fish fillets up on a plate, top with ginger and pour a few tablespoons of leftover sauce over the top. Place the Japanese mustard spinach on the side.
- Enjoy this dish served with rice.
If you can't find komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach) you can use regular spinach or bok choi instead.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Category: Fish
- Method: Simmering
- Cuisine: Japanese
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