Salmon Nanbantsuke is chunks of salmon marinated in a vinegar sauce topped with thin sliced pepper and onion. It’s in a metal,bowl. A succulent piece of Salmon is being held above the bowl on a fork.

Salmon Nanbanzuke

Salmon Nanbanzuke is a Japanese dish that probably came from the Spanish Recipe, “Escabeche,” that can be made by soaking chicken or fish in an acidic marinade flavored with paprika.  No matter what the origin, this delicious dish will leave you wanting more.

Salmon Nabanzuke is a salad or appetizer made with chunks of fish that are coated, fried and then marinated in a delicious sauce made with soy sauce, sweetened vinegar, onions and sometimes peppers.  Nanbanzuke (南蛮漬け) translates into “Southern Barbarians pickles”.  Japanese in the Meiji era knew the Portuguese as Southern Barbarians, and it was the Portuguese who probably introduced the escabeche marinaded dishes to Japan.

I first was introduced to Nanbanzuke when I moved to Japan and found it in the supermarkets.  Just about every Japanese market features some type of chicken or fish Nanbanzuke in the deli.  I was impressed with how delicious yet simple it was and how versatile of a dish it is. And it’s not only the market.  If you ever go to a high end buffet in Japan, you can usually find Nannanzuke as a selection.  And it’s easy to see why. It’s super easy to prepare a huge batch of this, it’s delicious and it keeps fresh for days.

While Salmon tastes great in Nanbanzuke, in Japan Nanbanzuke is often made with mackerel (saba) or jack mackerel (aji).  Fried chicken is also a popular ingredient to use.  When preparing Nanbanzuke I always like to add freshly fried fish or chicken into the marinade while it is still hot.  There are two reasons for this – the marinade will soak into the coating and give each piece a delicious flavor, and the oil in the coating will mix into the marinade releasing oil into the marinade which gives it a fuller and balanced flavor.

The onions and red pepper marinade in the vinegar as well, and all of the tastes blend together fabulously.  Salmon Nanbanzuke can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature, but never hot.  Although you can serve it after just 30 minutes of marinating, I usually marinate this dish for at least a day to allow the flavors to blend and the sauce to thicken.  The longer it marinates, the better it tastes.

You can serve this wonderful dish instead of a dinner salad and wow your guests.  And you can refrigerate nanbanzuke for up to a week before serving – but I can guarantee it won’t last that long!


Salmon Nanbanzuke

Salmon Nanbanzuke is a two part recipe – Part one is to prepare the marinade and part 2 is to cook the fish and veggies.  I broke the ingredients into two sections below so if you would rather, you can make the marinade by itself.  Instead of salmon you can marinate mackerel, (jack mackerel) or even boneless fried chicken (karaage).  Scale the recipe as desired, you can cook up a huge batch and enjoy it all week long.

30 mins 30 mins Makes 8 Servings
PREP 30 mins
COOKING 30 mins
YIELD Makes 8 Servings
Salmon Nanbantsuke is chunks of salmon marinated in a vinegar sauce topped with thin sliced pepper and onion. It’s in a metal,bowl. A succulent piece of Salmon is being held above the bowl on a fork.


Fried Fish and Vegetables

  • 1 lb Salmon
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1/2. Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Katakuriko (Potato Starch)
  • 2 cups of Rice Bran oil for frying (other unflavored oils such as canola oil or vegetable oil works as well)

Nanban Marinade

  • 1 cup dashi
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 TBSP Shoyu
  • 1/8 cup Mirin
  • 1/8 cup Sake
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes

Nanbantsuke sauce ingredients


  • Remove the skin and any remaining bones from the salmon.
  • Cut the salmon into 1 to 2 inch pieces.

Salmon diced into 1 inch pieces on a cutting board

  • Mix the salmon pieces in with the potato starch and set aside.

Salmon in a metal bowl coated with potato starch

  • Wash and peel the onion.  Slice the onion and pepper into very thin strips.

Thinly sliced red pepper on a cutting board

  • Fill a frypan with about 3/4 of an inch of cooking oil and preheat to 160 deg C/ 320 deg F over medium heat.
  • While heating the oil, combine the sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continually to dissolve the sugar.
  • Pour half of the sauce into a 9 x 9 pan.
  • Once the oil is preheated, fry the fish in single layer batches for 2 minutes on each side.

Coated salmon frying in oil in a black pan

  • Put the fried fish into the nanbantsuke sauce.
  • Once the fish is finished cooking, add the onion and pepper and fry for 1 minute in the oil.

Thin sliced onion and pepper frying in cooking oil in a black pan

  • Put the veggies over the salmon.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the salmon and veggies.

Pouring sauce over the salmon and veggies

  • Allow to marinade for 30 minutes.
  • Serve at room temperature  or cold.  Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Nanbantsuke in a silver serving brown with a chrysanthemum flower on top.


  • Marinate the fish for as long as you can.  I recommend you refrigerate it at least overnight, or even for a full day, before serving.


Related Recipes

Leave a Reply