Battera is literally a pressed sushi. In Japan mackerel sushi is much more popular  than salmon or tuna for the obvious reason of cost. But as this dish will reveal, a pressed sushi with pickled mackerel displays a rich taste. An unexpected and very affordable delicacy.   

The art of making mackerel battera

Making this type of sushi is rather simple. For many who are unfamiliar with Japanese cooking it is possibly the fear and unbelief that is to be conquered. That the combination of a ‘vinegared’ mackerel with sweetened and ‘vinegared’ sushi rice can result in such a delicacy.
There are a few items to pay attention to. Elsewhere you can find the method to make the pickled mackerel and the sushi rice. The pickled mackerel takes at the least 3 hrs, or can be made a day ahead.
Further the choice of the mackerel size has some effect. For best results do not choose a too small half mackerel, as it will be more difficult to butterfly the fish. I often make this battera in combination with salmon sushi, salmon egg sushi or a vegetarian sushi roll.

Special equipment

  • a makisu, a bamboo sushi mat
    Battera mackerel sushi: ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

    Battera with preserved mackerel

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Total Time 20 minutes
    Course Appetizer
    Cuisine Japanese
    Servings 6


    Ingredients to make the battera

    • 2 halves pickled mackerel
    • several Japanese mint (shiso) or ordinary mint leaves
    • 2 tbsp pickled ginger (gari)
    • 1 cup vinegared and sweetened cooked sushi rice

    Ingredients to make the pickled ginger (gari)

    • 3.5 oz (100 g) young ginger
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 6.5 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 4 tbsp (45 g) sugar


    Instructions to making the mackerel battera

    • Take the pickled mackerel halves (see food basics section for pickled mackerel) after removing the upper skin and taking out all bones
    • Put one fish halve skin side down on your board. We are going to butterfly the fish
    • Now with a sharp knife that you keep parallel to where the main bone had been and flat with respect to the board, cut carefully into the fish, until about a half inch of the edge of the fish. Repeat for the other section of the same halve
    • Then repeat the above step for the other halve
    • Place a piece of cling wrap on the masuki. Then place on the cling wrap one butterflied mackerel halve skin-side down and open the flaps
    • Place mint leaves in the centre and also the gari slices
    • Add a strip of cooked and 'vinegared' sushi rice (see the food basics section) in the length and an inch wide on top
    • Then roll the sushi tight, ensuring that most of not all of the rice is covered by fish. Make it tight by using the masuki to press the sushi roll
    • Leave the roll for at least 2 h before consumption, so the flavors can mingle and a delicious taste developed. Slice with a wet, sharp cooks knife rounds just before serving

    Instructions to make the gari

    • clean the young ginger using a spoon or knife
    • very thinly slice with a sharp cooks knife the ginger in placks
    • sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt on the ginger and set aside for 5 minutes
    • Make a small pot of boiling water and add the ginger. Cook for 3 minutes (less spicy) and 1 minute (more spicy).
    • Drain the ginger slices and with clean hands squeeze the water further out.
    • Place the ginger slices in a jar
    • In a separate pot, mix the rice vinegar,  the sugar and the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and bring to a boil. Let simmer with the lid off for 10 minutes.
    • Then take it off the heat and let it cool.
    • When cooled down to lukewarm, pour the contents in the jar with ginger slices. 
    • Store the gari for up to a year in the refrigerator.


    Method: no heating
    Food allergy & intolerance information: fish
    Keyword Appetizer, No heat treatment, sushi


  1. While in general keeping sushi in the refrigerator for a longer time is not recommended, this mackerel battera, while rolled in cling wrap, keeps great in the fridge for a day. The preserved fish helps and the flavors melt.
  2. The time that the mackerel has spend in the rice vinegar (see pickled mackerel) has some influence. The taste may be slightly less rich when it has been held for more than 2 hours in the rice vinegar. However,  if you would have forgotten to remove a bone in the fish, this will be more forgiving as the fish bones become soft after a day in the vinegar. Even when the mackerel is held in the vinegar for 3 days, a great mackerel battera can be made.

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