Aji no nanban-zuke (Sweet and spicy marinade of horse mackerel)

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Broadcast date:May 20, 2011

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Eggs
  • Beans & Tofu
  • Flour
  • Other

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Ingredients (Serves 4 )

・3 horse mackerels (aji) or 300 g of horse mackerel fillets
・½  Onion
・2  green peppers (or 1 paprika)
・1 dried red chilli
・½ tsp (2.5g) salt

・Flour for dusting the fish
・Vegetable oil for the deep-frying

Ingredients for the marinade

・½ cup (100 ml) rice vinegar (or other cereal-based vinegar)
・¼ cup (50 ml) water
・2 tbsp (18g) sugar
・1 tbsp (15ml) soy sauce
・1 tsp   (5g) salt


  1. Remove the tough, spiky scales near the tail. Remove the head, make an incision in the belly to remove the entrails, wash and pat dry with paper towels. Fillet the fish into three pieces using the sanmai-oroshi technique. Remove any remaining bones, and cut into approx. 4 cm pieces. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and set to one side.
  2. Thinly slice the onion and the green peppers. Soften the chilli by soaking it in some water; remove seeds and slice finely.
  3. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Ensure that the salt and sugar are properly dissolved. Add the sliced vegetables.
  4. Dust the fish with flour, and deep-fry for 2-3 minutes in oil heated to 170°C. Drain and add the fish while it is still hot to the marinade. The dish can be served immediately or left to sit for a while to let the flavours mingle. This dish will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 days.

Catch of the Day

Nanban: A Definition

Nanban is originally an old Chinese term (南蛮 Nanman) meaning ‘southern barbarians’.  It was derogatory term applied to non-Chinese peoples living in southern regions.  In Japan, however, nanban has been used to refer to anything new and different of foreign origin.  The exotic goods and culture introduced from countries such as Portugal, Spain, and Southeast Asia in the mid-16th Century were described as nanban.  Nanban-zuke (Nanban-style marinade) was the term given to food that had been deep-fried and flavoured with chillies, at a time when oil and chilis did not feature prominently in Japanese cooking.  Nanban-gashi refers to exotic-style sweets, e.g. Konpeito (small sugar candies of assorted colours).  Konpeito originates from confeito, the Portuguese term for sweetmeats.

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