Sabazushi – mackerel sushi wrapped in kombu

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This type of sabazushi recipe is a variation of the sushi known as battera, where rice is pressed into a mould and topped with an even layer of marinated mackerel and sheets of shiraita-konbu, a kind of shaved seaweed that, when soaked, results in a silky-smooth, translucent layer with a unique flavour. This variant is rolled using a bamboo mat instead, a challenging form that will put your skills to the test. You will only need 200g sushi rice for this recipe – use any excess to make Hideki's tamago nigiri or salmon futomaki.

First published in 2018




Marinated kombu

  • 4 sheets of shiraita-konbu, (shaved kombu seaweed) measuring 4x12cm
  • 108g of rice vinegar
  • 24g of sugar

Sushi rice (makes approx. 500g)

Sushi vinegar (for 500g cooked rice)

To cure the mackerel

Mackerel marinade

To serve


  • Bamboo sushi mat


To begin, marinate the kombu sheets. Mix together the vinegar and sugar, place in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Submerge the kombu sheets in the mixture and leave to marinate overnight
  • 4 sheets of shiraita-konbu, (shaved kombu seaweed) measuring 4x12cm
  • 24g of sugar
  • 108g of rice vinegar
To make the sushi rice, place the rice in a bowl and cover with water. Stir the rice using your fingers until the water turns a milky white colour. Drain in a colander and return the rice to the bowl. Repeat this washing and draining process four or five times, until the water is clear
At this point, place the rice in the bowl, cover with water and leave to soak for 20 minutes
Drain the rice and add to a pan with the 300ml of water and small piece of kombu. Place a lid on the pan and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat and cook for another 20 minutes
While the rice is cooking, make the sushi vinegar by placing all the ingredients in a small pan and heating until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Keep the vinegar warm
When the rice is cooked, place it in a mixing bowl. While it and the sushi vinegar are still hot, add the sushi vinegar to the rice, cutting into the rice using the side of the paddle to avoid breaking too many grains
When the vinegar is incorporated, transfer the rice to a plate or tray, top with a damp sheet of kitchen paper and set aside to cool
To prepare the mackerel, place each fillet skin-side down on the board. Run your finger down the centre of the fillet – you should be able to feel the bones protruding down the middle. Make an incision down each side of the line of bones (taking care you don't cut through the skin)
Lift the strip of bony flesh away from the fillet and discard
Sprinkle the fillet with sugar and set aside for 20 minutes until nice and firm. Wash the fillets and dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 30 minutes, then wash and dry again with kitchen paper
Stir together the marinade ingredients until incorporated in a shallow dish and add the mackerel fillets. Leave to marinate for 1 hour
Remove the mackerel from the marinade and pat dry
Pinch the skin from the head side and very gently pull away from the fillet
Flatten out the fillet by trimming the top of it, keeping your knife parallel to the chopping board. You will use these trimmings to fill any gaps in the roll
Place on a bamboo mat lined with cling film, skin-side down. Use the trimmings to fill any gaps so you have a nice even rectangle of mackerel flesh
Wet your hands and take approximately 100g of rice. Place on top of the mackerel, evenly spreading it out. Roll the mackerel and rice into a tight roll, keeping the mackerel in place
Lay two of the marinated kombu sheets over the top to cover the mackerel and sides of the rice, once again pressing down with the sushi mat
Slice the roll into eight pieces and place on a serving plate, wiping the knife clean and wetting it with water after each slice. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make another roll
Peel the myoga, chop into small pieces and use to garnish the sushi. Add small mounds of tobiko, then finish with nasturtium leaves
First published in 2018

With over fifteen years of rigorous Japanese culinary training behind him, Hideki Hiwatashi is well versed in the art of kaiseki cuisine.

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