In the 1800s, when Japan was in national isolation, Nagasaki was the only port city allowing trade with other countries such as Portugal, Spain and China. These people were often referred to as “Nanban”, the people of the South, and often brought fears and worries to the region. However, with the trade, the “Nanban” cultures brought new cooking styles that often were unfamiliar but quickly became popular. This rich history and its influence on food and architecture makes Nagasaki one of my favorite places to travel to in Japan.
One of the more popular dishes to this day is called Nanbanzuke, which is often made with fried fish (sardines and mackerel) and sliced onions marinated in a sweet vinaigrette with chili pepper. The word Zuke means to marinate.
Growing up in a coastal town not far from Nagasaki, many restaurants and home cooks would prepare nanban dishes and this is one of my favorite summer meals; the sweet vinegar taste is always refreshing on hot summer days. I often make this dish with walleye or salmon. Be sure to allow enough time to marinate so the fish and onion absorb the sweet and sour vinegar taste. This is a great dish to make ahead of time for a party or summer outing.
Salmon Nanban Zuke
- 1 pound salmon walleye, sardines and mackerel works well
- salt and pepper
- corn starch
- vegetable oil fro frying
- 1 1/2 stalk celery thinly sliced in bias
- 1/2 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 medium roma tomato cubed
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil or olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon shichimi or crushed red pepper
- To make marinade, bring to boil rice vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and set it aside to cool.
- Sprinkle a pinch of salt and gently massage the sliced onion. Rinse the onion under cold water then squeeze excess water.
- Once the marinade is cooled down transfer to a shallow dish large enough to hold all ingredients in 1 to 2 layers. Add onion and celery to the marinade.
- Cut salmon into thin-one-bite size. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
- Heat the frying oil to 375 fahrenheit. Dredge salmon in cornstarch and fry them in batches. Take them out on paper towels to drain excess oil. Repeat until all the fish are fried.
- While the fish is still warm, add them to the marinade and coat them evenly with marinade. Sprinkle sliced lemon, cubed tomato, shichimi pepper, and sesame oil on top.
- Marinate the fish at least three hours to overnight in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Thank you Sitka Salmon Shares for sponsoring this post!