• Top 37 Best Japanese Canned Mackerel in 2020 - Tried and True! 1
  • Top 37 Best Japanese Canned Mackerel in 2020 - Tried and True! 2
  • Top 37 Best Japanese Canned Mackerel in 2020 - Tried and True! 3
  • Top 37 Best Japanese Canned Mackerel in 2020 - Tried and True! 4
  • Top 37 Best Japanese Canned Mackerel in 2020 - Tried and True! 5

Top 37 Best Japanese Canned Mackerel in 2020 - Tried and True!

Are you getting enough oily fish in your diet? Mackerel is high in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), vitamin D, B vitamins and selenium. Most Americans don't eat enough oily fish and could benefit from including nutritious mackerel in their diet. It's also versatile and delicious! And did you know canned mackerel is healthier than fresh?


Japan offers canned mackerel in lots of enticing flavors, from miso to soy sauce to tomato. Our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping for the best canned mackerel available online. We then picked out the most popular products and taste-tested them. We then ranked the products and put what we learned into a buying guide to help you choose the best Japanese canned mackerel available online. For this article, we have two lists: canned mackerel with sauces or flavors, and plain mackerel in water.

  • Last updated: 12-05-2020
  • 172 views
Table of Contents

Why is Canned Mackerel So Healthy?

Why is Canned Mackerel So Healthy?

According to the Japan Canners Association, the production of canned mackerel has surpassed that of tuna. Mackerel is rich in DHA and EPA, but those are easily oxidized as the fish is caught and shipped to eat fresh.


When mackerel is canned as soon as it's caught, it retains all that nutrition. Mackerel also has a lot of vitamins and calcium, so canned mackerel could be considered a superfood for both beauty and health!

Top 12 Best Flavored Japanese Canned Mackerel

Top 12 Best Flavored Japanese Canned Mackerel

We picked out some of the most popular products and rated them on a five-point scale. The radar chart above shows what criteria we used to judge the taste. You can find this chart for each product to help you choose the one you'll like best.


Japanese prices for some of the products are given, but they've been converted into US dollars to make it easy for you.

1

Kinoya Ishinomaki FisheriesKinka Mackerel Simmered in Miso

$3.86

Japanese木の屋石巻水産彩 金華さば味噌煮
Amount per can6 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces266
Fish fromJapan (Miyagi prefecture)
Shelf life3 years
FlavorMiso
Total rating4.2
2

Ito FoodsDelicious Mackerel Simmered in Miso

$2.00

Japanese伊藤食品美味しい鯖味噌煮
Amount per can6.7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces210
Fish fromJapan (Sanriku coast)
Shelf life3 years
FlavorMiso
Total rating4.0
3

Takagi ShoutenMackerel in Soy Sauce With Green Onions

$3.09

Japanese高木商店ねぎ鯖醤油だれ
Amount per can3.5 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces230
Fish fromJapan (Chiba prefecture)
Shelf life3 years
FlavorSoy sauce
Total rating3.9
4

Maruha NichiroSeven Premium Domestic Mackerel in Miso

$1.68

Japaneseマルハニチロセブンプレミアム 国産さばみそ煮
Amount per can6.7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces267
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life3 years
FlavorMiso
Total rating3.8
5

KyokuyoFlavored Mackerel

24 pack

$68.13

Japanese極洋さば味付
Amount per can6.7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces133-286
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life3 years
FlavorSoy sauce
Total rating3.7
6

NissuiSABA Flavored Mackerel

6 pack

$11.52

Japanese日本水産スルッとふた SABA 味付け
Amount per can5.3 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces103
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life3 years
FlavorSoy sauce and ginger
Total rating3.6
7

SSK SalesYum! Mackerel Simmered in Miso

$1.79

JapaneseSSKセールスうまい!鯖 味噌煮
Amount per can5.3 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces150
Fish fromSea of Japan
Shelf life3 years
FlavorMiso
Total rating3.5
8

Iwate Prefecture FoodsLemon-Basil Ça Va?

$3.75

Japanese岩手県産サヴァ缶 レモンバジル味
Amount per can6 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces156
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life3 years
FlavorLemon-basil
Total rating3.5
9

KyokuyoMackerel Simmered in Miso

$5.40

Japanese極洋さば味噌煮
Amount per can6.7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces126-252
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life3 years
FlavorMiso
Total rating3.4
10

Itoh FoodsOishii Mackerel in Soy Sauce

Japanese伊藤食品美味しい鯖醤油煮
Amount per can6.7 oz
Calories per 3.5 ounces221
Fish fromSanriku coast
FlavorSoy sauce
Shelf life3 years
Total rating3.3
11

Meidi-YaMackerel With Vegetable Marinade

$3.37

Japanese明治屋おいしい缶詰 国産焼き鯖の香味野菜マリネ
Amount per can3 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces196
Fish fromAomori prefecture
Shelf life3 years
FlavorVegetable stock
Total rating3.1
12

Maruha NichiroTsuki Hana Simmered Mackerel

12 pack

$35.66

Japaneseマルハニチロ月花さば煮付
Amount per can7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces242
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life3 years
FlavorSoy sauce
Total rating3.0

Compare the Best Flavored Japanese Canned Mackerel

Image
1
Kinoya Ishinomaki Fisheries Kinka Mackerel Simmered in Miso 1

Kinoya Ishinomaki Fisheries

2
Ito Foods Delicious Mackerel Simmered in Miso 1

Ito Foods

3
Takagi Shouten Mackerel in Soy Sauce With Green Onions 1

Takagi Shouten

4
Maruha Nichiro Seven Premium Domestic Mackerel in Miso 1

Maruha Nichiro

5
Kyokuyo Flavored Mackerel 1

Kyokuyo

6
Nissui SABA Flavored Mackerel 1

Nissui

7
SSK Sales Yum! Mackerel Simmered in Miso 1

SSK Sales

8
Iwate Prefecture Foods Lemon-Basil Ça Va? 1

Iwate Prefecture Foods

9
Kyokuyo Mackerel Simmered in Miso 1

Kyokuyo

10
Itoh Foods Oishii Mackerel in Soy Sauce 1

Itoh Foods

11
Meidi-Ya Mackerel With Vegetable Marinade 1

Meidi-Ya

12
Maruha Nichiro Tsuki Hana Simmered Mackerel 1

Maruha Nichiro

Name

Kinka Mackerel Simmered in Miso

Delicious Mackerel Simmered in Miso

Mackerel in Soy Sauce With Green Onions

Seven Premium Domestic Mackerel in Miso

Flavored Mackerel

SABA Flavored Mackerel

Yum! Mackerel Simmered in Miso

Lemon-Basil Ça Va?

Mackerel Simmered in Miso

Oishii Mackerel in Soy Sauce

Mackerel With Vegetable Marinade

Tsuki Hana Simmered Mackerel

Features

mybest's Top Choice! Luxurious Mackerel of the Highest Quality

Easy to Find and Popular for a Reason

Green Onions and Mackerel Go Great Together!

A Luxury Item from a Convenience Store!

A Standout With Strong but Balanced Soy Sauce Flavor

Exquisitely Balanced Soy Sauce Flavor That's a Safe Choice

Unique Creamy Texture and Miso Umami

Refreshing and Addictive Flavor

Great Depth of Flavor and Soft Texture

Enticing Aroma for Seafood Lovers

A Bit of Sourness Makes it a Perfect Side Dish

A Light Taste and Refreshing Finish

Price$3.86$2.00$3.09$1.68$68.13$11.52$1.79$3.75$5.40$3.37$35.66
Japanese木の屋石巻水産彩 金華さば味噌煮伊藤食品美味しい鯖味噌煮高木商店ねぎ鯖醤油だれマルハニチロセブンプレミアム 国産さばみそ煮極洋さば味付日本水産スルッとふた SABA 味付けSSKセールスうまい!鯖 味噌煮岩手県産サヴァ缶 レモンバジル味極洋さば味噌煮伊藤食品美味しい鯖醤油煮明治屋おいしい缶詰 国産焼き鯖の香味野菜マリネマルハニチロ月花さば煮付
Amount per can6 oz.6.7 oz.3.5 oz.6.7 oz.6.7 oz.5.3 oz.5.3 oz.6 oz.6.7 oz.6.7 oz3 oz.7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces266210230267133-286103150156126-252221196242
Fish fromJapan (Miyagi prefecture)Japan (Sanriku coast)Japan (Chiba prefecture)JapanJapanJapanSea of JapanJapanJapanSanriku coastAomori prefectureJapan
Shelf life3 years3 years3 years3 years3 years3 years3 years3 years3 yearsSoy sauce3 years3 years
FlavorMisoMisoSoy sauceMisoSoy sauceSoy sauce and gingerMisoLemon-basilMiso3 yearsVegetable stockSoy sauce
Total rating4.24.03.93.83.73.63.53.53.43.33.13.0
Link

Products That Didn't Make the Cut

And why they didn't quite make it.

The Miso Flavored Ones

The Miso Flavored Ones

The miso-flavored canned mackerel from Tamuracho uses Norwegian-caught fish. It has a definite taste of mackerel, which is both good and bad. Also, we thought the miso flavor was a bit strong, but if you like miso, go for it.


Maruha Nichiro's mackerel simmered in miso is slow-cooked and the taste fully permeates the fish. However, the miso was overpowered by the flavor of mirin, so we felt the balance was off.


SABA miso-simmered, from Nissui, is strong in miso flavor from the first bite, and strong in fishy aftertaste too. The flesh is a bit tough and in the long run it just seems kind of cheap.

The Miso Flavored Ones

The miso-simmered mackerel from Seawings Group has such a light flavor that the fish's stinkiness comes out too much. Some of us sensed a bit of sourness. The texture is also not great.


Inaba Foods bite-sized mackerel simmered in miso includes sliced ginger, but the flavor was ranked strongest among the ones we tasted. the flesh isn't oily enough, and it's a bit tough. It would be good if you like strong flavors.

The Soy Sauce and Salt Flavored Ones

The Soy Sauce and Salt Flavored Ones

The soy sauce-flavored mackerel from Ichikara-Batake was a bit unbalanced. It uses oily Norwegian mackerel, seasoned soy sauce made with a traditional method, and ginger. But it's heavy on the soy sauce and the fish's odor comes out too strongly.


Bite-sized soy sauce-flavored mackerel from Inaba Foods is easy to eat; it's soft and tender. However, we found the ginger in it to take over the flavor, and the original taste of the fish was lost. It might be good if you like ginger and mild fish, but we were disappointed.


Chiba prefecture's grilled salt mackerel, "Yaki-Shio Saba," is a bit more like salted fish than canned. As the name suggests, it's seasoned with sake and salt and grilled. It would be good as a snack with alcohol, but is pretty salty and fishy.

The Vegetable and Olive Oil Flavored Ones

The Vegetable and Olive Oil Flavored Ones

Maruha Nichiro provided our only tomato-simmered option. It uses Kagome brand tomato paste, onions, olives and potatoes. The fish has a good mouthfeel and is light and not too fatty. It's refreshing and would work well in pasta.


Ça Va Paprika Chili flavor has pros and cons. It's spicy, with paprika powder and habanero, but it's less hot that it is a bit tingly. It's nice that the smell of fish is not strong. It's a taste combination that may be unfamiliar for some but others will find it perfectly delicious.

The Vegetable and Olive Oil Flavored Ones

Ça Va in Olive Oil, with mackerel from Iwate prefecture, is obviously oily, but we wished the flavor of the olive oil wasn't so strong. It achieved our lowest rating for flavor intensity as a result. The fish also smells a bit, despite having a weak flavor.


La Cantine Mackerel Filet in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, from Maruha Nichiro, uses Norwegian fish and Spanish oil. It's actually preserved in the oil, and as a result is so oily some of us couldn't handle it. The fish is also rather chewy.

Top 7 Best Japanese Canned Mackerel in Water

Here are our top unflavored canned mackerel. We used the same radar charts and five-point scale for these.

1

Takagi ShoutenWinter Mackerel in Water

$18.40

Japanese高木商店寒さば水煮
Amount per can6.7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces224
Fish fromJapan (Chiba prefecture)
Shelf life3 years
Total rating4.2
2

KyokuyoMackerel in Water

24 pack

$202.19

Japanese極洋さば水煮
Amount per can6.35 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces113-239
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life3 years
Total rating3.9
3

SeawingsMackerel in Water

24 pack

$22.44

Japaneseシーウィングスさば水煮
Amount per can7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces190
Fish fromChina
Shelf life3 years
Total rating3.7
4
Japanese創健社さば水煮
Amount per can6.7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces143
Fish fromWestern Japan
Shelf life1,080 days
Total rating3.6
5
JapaneseSSKセールスうまい!鯖 水煮
Amount per can5.3 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces122
Fish fromSea of Japan
Shelf life3 years
Total rating3.6
6

STI Food HoldingsDomestic Mackerel in Water

$1.72

JapaneseSTIフードホールディングス国産さば水煮
Amount per can6.7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces254
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life3 years
Total rating3.5
7

Maruha NichiroTsukihana Mackerel in Water

3 pack

$48.29

Japaneseマルハニチロ月花さば水煮
Amount per can7 oz.
Calories per 3.5 ounces180
Fish fromJapan
Shelf life2 years
Total rating3.3

Compare the Best Japanese Canned Mackerel in Water

Image
1
Takagi Shouten Winter Mackerel in Water 1

Takagi Shouten

2
Kyokuyo Mackerel in Water 1

Kyokuyo

3
Seawings Mackerel in Water 1

Seawings

4
Sokensha Mackerel in Water 1

Sokensha

5
SSK Foods Yum! Mackerel in Water 1

SSK Foods

6
STI Food Holdings Domestic Mackerel in Water 1

STI Food Holdings

7
Maruha Nichiro Tsukihana Mackerel in Water 1

Maruha Nichiro

10
Itoh Foods Oishii Mackerel in Soy Sauce 1

Itoh Foods

Name

Winter Mackerel in Water

Mackerel in Water

Mackerel in Water

Mackerel in Water

Yum! Mackerel in Water

Domestic Mackerel in Water

Tsukihana Mackerel in Water

Oishii Mackerel in Soy Sauce

Features

mybest's Top Unflavored Mackerel! Such a Rich Taste, It's Addictive

Refreshing and Great for a Variety of Dishes

Simple, Versatile, and Delicious

Chewy and Salty and Great to Eat Plain

Tightly Packed and Good Mouthfeel, but a Bit Greasy

A Solid Choice, but Quite Fatty

Mildly Seasoned, but Definitely Greasy

Enticing Aroma for Seafood Lovers

Price$18.40$202.19$22.44$20.91$46.99$1.72$48.29
Japanese高木商店寒さば水煮極洋さば水煮シーウィングスさば水煮創健社さば水煮SSKセールスうまい!鯖 水煮STIフードホールディングス国産さば水煮マルハニチロ月花さば水煮伊藤食品美味しい鯖醤油煮
Amount per can6.7 oz.6.35 oz.7 oz.6.7 oz.5.3 oz.6.7 oz.7 oz.6.7 oz
Calories per 3.5 ounces224113-239190143122254180221
Fish fromJapan (Chiba prefecture)JapanChinaWestern JapanSea of JapanJapanJapanSanriku coast
Shelf life3 years3 years3 years1,080 days3 years3 years2 yearsSoy sauce
Total rating4.23.93.73.63.63.53.33.3
Link

Products That Didn't Make the Cut

And why they didn't quite make it.

Products That Didn't Make the Cut

Itoh Foods' Delicious Mackerel in Water is not as good as the miso one, but it shares the same great texture. We just wished it had more seasoning. It would be good with a little ponzu and grated daikon radish, or soy sauce.


Another from Itoh, the low-salt one in a blue can, has no odor and a good oiliness. It's refreshing and easy to eat with a good mouthfeel. But because it's low-salt, we were a bit unsatisfied. this is another one that would benefit from adding your own extra seasoning.


Inaba's Bite-Sized Mackerel in Water has some chopped ginger added to it, which masks the smell of the fish. That's nice, but it also covers the fish's taste too much in our opinion. It's tough as well, and a bit messy to eat.

Products That Didn't Make the Cut

Hagoromo's is called "Healthy Mackerel" in water, and it's good for using as an ingredient in dishes where you want a strong fishy taste. It's a little too greasy to eat straight from the can. We think it's better to cook it first.


SABA in Water, from Nissui, has just the right saltiness. But the texture is tough because it's not oily enough. It's hard to break it up to eat it.


Nissui also brought us Denmark Mackerel in Water, in a square tin. Some might enjoy that the skin and bones are removed, so this may be more familiar to American palates. But the fishy odor is strong. It's also quite dry and a bit cheap-tasting.

How We Tested the Canned Mackerel

How We Tested the Canned Mackerel

Six of us taste-tested the cans of mackerel. We were looking for a balanced flavor, good texture, and overall deliciousness! Then we rated them on a five-point scale.

Canned Mackerel Goes Great With Rice! Salty-Sweet Ones are Really Good

Canned Mackerel Goes Great With Rice! Salty-Sweet Ones are Really Good

Our top five products all had a salty-sweetness that shone through regardless of the strength of flavor.


Among products with the same seasoning, whether it's miso or soy sauce, some were noticeably saltier than others, so be careful about those. In particular, the high-class products seemed more for mature palates, with modest sweetness but a strong salty taste, and those divided our tasters.

Canned Mackerel Goes Great With Rice! Salty-Sweet Ones are Really Good

On the other hand, products that didn't impress us much were more unique flavors like olive oil and stewed tomato. These may be popular in Western cuisine, but we thought they would take some getting used to. If you're familiar with those types of flavor and enjoy them, they may be great for you.

For the Best Texture and Fattiness, Choose Mackerel Canned in Water

For the Best Texture and Fattiness, Choose Mackerel Canned in Water

If you're looking for a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture with moderate fattiness, go for unflavored mackerel in water.


Our top unflavored one, Winter Mackerel in Water from Takagi Shouten, uses only fish caught in fall and winter when they are at their most fatty. Compared to other products, the plump flesh and mouthfeel are outstanding.


So when choosing, remember that the place of origin is important and often highlighted by the manufacturer. But don't forget to check when the fish was caught for the best texture.

How to Choose Japanese Canned Mackerel - Buying Guide

We have four tips for you to help you decide which canned mackerel will suit your tastebuds and recipes.

Choose Between Seasoned or Plain Mackerel

Aside from preference, which one is better depends on how you want to serve it, straight out of the can or in a prepared dish.

For Side Dishes, Try Flavored Ones

For Side Dishes, Try Flavored Ones

For simple sides, you can't beat pre-seasoned mackerel straight out of the can. These are also a great choice to stock in your pantry for emergencies or if you have no time to shop.


Typical Japanese flavors are miso and soy sauce, but others like tomato, olive oil, and curry are available to suit a variety of tastes. We recommend the ones with a balanced sweet and salty flavor to go with rice, and the saltier ones to have as a snack with alcohol.


For emergency use, we assume it'll be eaten by itself and probably not heated up, so in that situation we think miso and soy sauce flavors are the most reliably tasty.

For Cooking and to Cut Calories, Choose Plain in Water

For Cooking and to Cut Calories, Choose Plain in Water

Mackerel canned in salt water or plain water will bring you the original taste of the fish. These are best for your own recipes or to add your favorite seasonings.


They have fewer calories than the flavored ones and are better for those on a low-salt diet. but remember some do contain added salt, so watch for that if you need to avoid it.

Look at Where the Fish is From

Look at Where the Fish is From

If you want the best quality fish, pay attention to the area it came from. Japanese-caught mackerel varies by which port it was landed at, with some being considered high-class brands.


Kinka mackerel from Ishinomaki Fish Market has high-quality fattiness and a strong umami flavor. Hachinohe-Mae-Oki mackerel, from Hachinohe Port in Aomori prefecture, has substantial fat and plump flesh.


Some use Norwegian mackerel, known for its consistent oiliness throughout the year. Check the place of origin to know more about what you can expect from the texture and fish's flavor.

The Dates on the Can Tell You More Than Just Food Safety

The Dates on the Can Tell You More Than Just Food Safety

Did you know the taste of canned foods can get better with time, just like fine wines? We recommend choosing canned mackerel that's more than six months old! These will have the best flavor.


The best-by dates for canned seafoods is about three years after production. So if you find that date and subtract three years you'll get the date it was processed. Then you can use that information to get the six-month maturity time frame.

Consider Splurging on Some High-End Canned Fish

Consider Splurging on Some High-End Canned Fish

To keep pace with the increasing number of people drinking and dining at home, the canning industry in Japan has been producing many luxury canned foods. Premium products that cost over 500 yen (about five dollars) are available.


They may distinguish themselves by place of origin, type of fish, flavor, or preparation style. Many are in beautifully-designed cans and make great gifts. They may be extravagant for everyday meals, but for a special occasion or impressive side dish they're worth the extra cost.

How to Use Japanese Canned Mackerel

If you're not sure what to do with canned mackerel, we can help! Here are two easy recipes you can try.

Mackerel and Rice is a Simple Meal

Mackerel and Rice is a Simple Meal

Here's a healthy meal when you have no energy or time. It's especially easy if you have a rice cooker.


Ingredients for four people:

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 can of plain mackerel
  • piece of fresh ginger cut into matchsticks
  • seasonings: 2.5 tablespoons each of mirin, sake and soy sauce

Put the rice and seasonings into a rice cooker or pot and add water to reach the right amount of liquid. Add the mackerel and its juice and sprinkle the ginger on top. Do not stir! Cook the rice as usual, then when it's done, break up and mix the fish into the cooked rice. Done!


You can also use miso-flavored mackerel, or add vegetables such as mushrooms or other root veggies to cook at the same time as the rice. It's a super easy one-pot meal.

Mackerel Ajillo Makes a Great Drinking Snack or Appetizer

Mackerel Ajillo Makes a Great Drinking Snack or Appetizer

Here's another great way to use plain mackerel. All you need is the ingredients and a toaster oven!


Drain the canned mackerel. Leave it in the can and add some olive oil, grated fresh garlic, and dried hot pepper such as cayenne. Pop the can into a toaster oven and broil about five minutes. Done! And no washing dishes!


For a variation you can top it with parsley or cheese. It's great for otsumami, which are snacks served to go with alcohol.

Need to Stock Your Pantry?

Need to Stock Your Pantry?

Some staple foods are always good to have on hand. Take a look at these articles for foods to fill your larder.

Summary

In taste-testing all these canned mackerel products, we found that most were easy to eat and we weren't bothered by a strong fishy odor. They're great to keep stocked in your pantry for emergencies, an easy side dish, or as an elegant drinking snack. Enjoy some healthy and tasty Japanese canned mackerel!


Author: Rio Sasaki/Translation: Susan Lucier-Ogawa/Photos: Kazuya Ota, Yasuhiro Shimoya, Kohei Matsuda


Ranking Date: September 4, 2019


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