Cook Out Japanese Style 1: Sake Kama (Salmon Collar) & Ponzu

Here in the Bay Area, it feels like summer is almost over (or never started this year).  Yet the big BBQ day is coming up this weekend – Laber Day!  Most people barbeque staples – such as burgers, ribs, grilled chicken and sausage. But how about adding some Japanese items into the mix for a change?  They are super easy, a crowd pleaser, and your friends will really appreciate it too!

When we bought our house, my husband insisted we get a grill.  Growing up in Japan, I didn’t quite understand why Americans love grilling out so much.  Yes, it tastes good, but "putting food on the hot grill is not cooking!", I thought.  I told him that he needs to be in charge of the grill because I’d be in charge of the kitchen.  Well, I was very wrong.

I quickly found one can use a grill for Japanese food too!  Especially since we don’t have an exhaust fan in our kitchen, nor one of the tiny enclosed grills that Japanese use for most grilling, I found it actually quite convenient. (By the way, the Japanese barely do cookout, especially in their own yard — maybe because in the major cosmopolitan areas people do not have ANY outdoor space.)  And even though our grill is gas (faster than charcoal), our beloved Weber grill always give me great results, and fewer dishes to wash.  Love it!

So out of many possibilities, I’d like to share three very different and easy grilled dishes (plus Yaki-nasu, which we shared in the past. Click here for recipe).  Since they are cookout food, I didn’t specify the amounts or portions of ingredients.  Just figure out how many people you are grilling it for (and how many leftovers you want), and multiply the amount stated in the recipe.

Sake-Kama (Grilled salmon collar) 鮭かま

This is a really great dish which many Japanese restaurants serve for nearly $15, but if you grill it at home, it’ll be probably a few dollars at the most.  It’s really easy, flavorful, and highly recommended.  You can try this with Hamachi (yellowtail) collar too.  Call your fishmonger in advance, and ask them to save the collar for you.


  • Salmon (or hamachi) collar
  • Sea salt
  • Optional: Daikon radish, shredded ao-shiso leaves, and/or ponzu if preferred


  1. Salt the salmon collar lightly.
  2. Grill at 400F (about 200C) for about 10 min or until cooked through, flipping after 5 minutes.
  3. Eat as is, or if you want, garnish with grated daikon radish (squeeze out the liquid lightly) and shredded ao-shiso leaves.  It’s also good with ponzu.  (There’s meat on both front and back sides, so make sure to flip it and nibble the tasty bits on the back as well.)
  • How to make ponzu

Mix 3 tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs rice vinegar, 1 tbs citrus juice (orange, Meyer lemon etc.) and 1/2 tbs sesame oil.  It’s a very versatile sauce and Japanese people love it. If you frequent Japanese restaurants, you know how often they use this.  You can use on your regular salad, wakame seaweed salad and with cucumbers, chicken, etc.  So make extra, and keep in the fridge.  Use up in about 2 weeks.

The next post is on everyone’s favorite, Yaki-onigiri!   Be sure to subscribe to Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard from any of the 3 options on top right (email, RSS, NetworkedBlogs Application through Facebook), so that you won’t miss it!


2 thoughts on “Cook Out Japanese Style 1: Sake Kama (Salmon Collar) & Ponzu

    • Hi Mayo, thanks for the comment. You can buy the salmon kama at Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley, or can call a fish monger at your local fish (or super) market and ask them to save you some.

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