Takashi Miyazaki\'s herring with sansho pepper and kabayaki with Japanese rice

Takashi Miyazaki's herring with sansho pepper and kabayaki with Japanese ricePhotography by Brian Clarke, assisted by Harry Weir

This is a popular dish in Japan done with eel, which we call unagi kabayaki don, but eel is very pricey and hard to get. Why not use Irish herring instead? It is one of my favourite fish – it's not pricey and it's so good for you. We serve this as a main with Japanese rice (which is different to sushi rice). This recipe includes my fool-proof method of cooking rice to sticky perfection.

Serves 1


150g Japanese rice

For the kabayaki sauce:

  • 350ml Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 300ml mirin
  • 100ml sake
  • 250g sugar

To serve:

  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 3 herring fillets, skin on
  • 30g potato starch
  • 2 pinches sansho pepper
  • 10g leek, white part only chopped julienne
  • 5g shredded nori


  1. To make the sauce, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat until boiled. Pour into the jar and keep in the fridge.
  2. To cook the rice, place rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. To wash the rice, use one hand to mix the rice around with brisk, light movements. Pour out the water. Repeat this rinsing process three times.
  3. Now we must polish the rice. With fingers curled as though holding a ball, insert into rice and, using a constant rhythm and pace, rub the grains of rice around several times.
  4. For the final rinse, add plenty of fresh water, mix again lightly and quickly drain off. Repeat until water runs nearly clear. Drain rice into sieve and leave for 30 minutes.
  5. To cook, place the rice and the same amount of water into a heavy pot. Cover the pot with a lid and set over a high heat. When the water starts to boil, turn the heat to low and cook for about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave in the pot in a warm place for 10 minutes. Turn over the rice thoroughly with a flat rice paddle or wooden spoon. Put the lid back on and leave for 8 minutes.
  6. To cook the herring, put a frying pan on a high heat and add the oil. Rub herring with potato starch and place in the pan and cook for about two minutes on each side, until crispy.
  7. Remove the fish and the oil (using kitchen paper). Pour over the kabayaki sauce and cook on low heat for a few minutes. Finally, add the sansho pepper.
  8. To serve, pour the rice into a bowl. Place the cooked fish on the rice and scatter over the nori. Pour over the sauce and garnish with the leek.

TIP- This also works very well with mackerel.

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