Traditional dish

Grilled mackerel

Easily damaged mackerel is said to spoil within minutes, which explains the root of the idiom "saba o yomu" ("read the mackerel" or "manipulate the figures to one's advantage").

Broiled mackerel was conceived as a way to preserve this easily damaged fish in the summer time. Mackerel is cut open, skewered, and grilled.

Freshly caught mackerel is rich in fat and water, and the flesh tends to split open in the middle of broiling, so advanced technique is needed to cook it properly. There is an art to opening the fish with the knife so it does not split while broiling.

In the Kyoto Gion Matsuri, it is such an important dish that is is served with red rice (also called "okowa") for auspicious occasions. Cook thoroughly and serve with ginger soy sauce.

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