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Oct 31, 2007 12:55 PM

Why do sushi places never have mackerel (lately)?

Mackerel (saba) and Spanish Mackerel (sawara) are two of my favorite things to order when I go out for sushi. But I realized last night - when the waitress at a place in Philadelphia told me that they had none of either - that I've gotten used to being denied when I've tried to order them in the last few years.

The two fish are almost always on the menu, so I assume they are fairly universally considered part of the mainstream of sushi, yet now that I think of it I don't think I've managed to actually eat any for at least a couple of years.

Are they endangered and especially hard to come by? Are they seldom ordered and therefore seldom stocked?

I'm looking for some inside insight. Where's the mackerel?

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  1. Don't know why this is an problem - I love - and often get - Spanish Mackeral - in sushi places in NYC.

    1. I know that mackerel is especially perishable because it has such an oily flesh and the omega 3 fats are volatile. When I was in Japan a month ago my friends were saying that Saba is not so common even there, because it has to be very fresh to be eaten as sushi. I've seen lots of salted mackerel at the Japanese stores in Boston, though, but I'm not sure if this is what they would typically serve at a Sushi restaurant in Japan or the U.S.

      1. Can't find it at the restaurant? Get it yourself and locate a good Asian supermarket. You can find the same mackerel they use at most sushi bars in sealed, pre-marinated. Usually for cheap, too. When I make sushi at home, this stuff completes the meal.

        1. sounds like a regional supply problem-- should move the query to local board?

          1. Hmm. Recently had very good spanish mackerel in center city Philly (at Aso Sushi). It was a special though. Sushi places are not gonna stock every possible fish if it's not fresh. So must be availability at the market that day or that season. :) You might actually ask Sushi Chef what's up. :) I do if I don't find the kind of stuff I want.