Tuna soboro with ginger


I could have sworn I had already posted a recipe for tuna soboro already, and I was all set out to call this the Much Improved version. But what do you know - I had neglected to post any recipe for this frugal bento staple at all. But no matter; this version would probably have superceded any previous versions anyway.

During my stay in Japan, one thing that I asked my mother to make for me over and over again was fish simmered in a sweet-savory broth flavored with ginger. Here’s an example - simmered komochi garei (子持ちがれい). Karei (garei) is a type of flatfish, similar to flounder or plaice (French: limande), and komochi means that it has a lot of children, or eggs. This is one of my favorite fish dishes!


This tuna soboro uses a humble can of flaky tuna and other ingredients that anyone should be able to get easily, to reproduce the flavor of sweet-salty, ginger-scented simmered fish, in around 5 minutes. No mirin or sake is used, so really anyone can make this. It is great as a rice topping, as well as an onigiri (rice ball) filling. Mix it with some mayonnaise if you dare, for a rather unusual sandwich filling. In short, it’s a great bento staple.

Unlike the previous sakura denbu recipe, this one is really really easy and quick. (So what’s the difference between soboro and denbu, you ask? Well, denbu is supposed to be fluffy and fine, and soboro is moister and chunkier.)

Recipe: Tuna soboro with ginger

Makes 1 cup, or 2 to 4 servings, depending on how you use it. Approximately 350 calories for the whole amount.

  • 1 7 oz / 200 g water-packed tuna
  • 1 heaping tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs. raw cane sugar or light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs. pineapple juice
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce

Dump the contents of the tuna can, water and all, into a saucepan or frying pan, over medium heat. Stir the tuna around, breaking it up with chopsticks or a fork, until it’s flaky. Add the grated ginger, sugar and pineapple juice and keep stirring until the moisture is mostly gone - but don’t let it get too dry; it should be a bit moist and clumpy.

Push the tuna to one side of the pan to make an empty space on the bottom of your pan. Pour 2 tbs. soy sauce onto that empty space - it should sizzle. Mix it into the tuna. Taste, and add more soy sauce and/or sugar if you think it needs it.

Let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for up to a month.


  • Pineapple juice is just sweet enough and sour enough to add an interesting undertone to the tuna, but you won’t taste any pineapple in the end result. Experiment with other fruit juices! Orange juice should work.
  • Here I have used water-packed tuna to minimize the calorie count. Oil-packed tuna can be used too, but drain off the oil well before using.

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Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Looks great! I just made a batch of your meat soboro (I use ground turkey) yesterday. After that's gone, this is next for sure.

Does it give off a strong fishy smell when cooking? That kind of thing sticks around my house forever, unfortunately.

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Actually, now that I read the recipe, I see it will. Cooking the tuna straight in the pan will stink up the place for sure. Oh well :(

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

The ginger will take care of most of the stinkiness! (and use ventilation too if you can...no pun intended ^_^;)

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Ah~ I just finished making this to fill my onigiri with for my lunch tonight/tomorrow at work. It tastes so good! I was a little worried about the pineapple taste, but it's just as written -- none remains. Love it. Will make this often. I love cheap/easy/fast things like this!

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Time for me to come out of the lurking arena and let you know I LOVE YOUR SITE!!! And this recipe is excellent. Super simple and so delicious. How do you keep it around for any length of time? I filled 8 onigiri and have about a tablespoon left for my lunch tomorrow (if one of my DD's doesn't eat it first...) Oh yeah, btw, I used OJ.

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

This is SO GOOD!!! I made it with fresh squeezed OJ b/c I didn't have any other juice (well, grape but I think we can all understand why I passed on that one!) and it is fantastic! I can always count on Maki for really great recipes and this one more for regular rotation!

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

I don't like ginger, so I apporached this recipe with trepidation, but it delicious! Mum had to take it off me before I ate it all straight out of the pan!

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Maki, i have to tell you this,
This Tuna soboro with ginger is absolutly delicious! :)
Thanks and please post more new recipes because i want to eat more ^_^

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

I love all sort of Jap food! Alas, over here in Malaysia, it gets really expensive to even get a 300gm packet of soba noodles. This tuna one is doable though. Can I use lemon juice in place of pineapple juice instead? Maybe with a tad bit of honey to even out the sourness? I have 3 whole lemons in the fridge awaiting me :-D

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

This was a horrible recipe, i packed this in my obento today ans soon realized it was FAR too flavorful for me!!! I dont think that this could be used for anything BUT onigiri!!!

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Did you mean "too salty" perhaps? If that's the case, just reduce the amount of soy sauce.

You're welcome.

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Hi Maki,

This has become an absolute favorite in my home! I never know what to do with canned tuna, and this is a great way to make it tasty, it transforms that pale, sad tuna into something fragrant and delicious. I make it exactly the way you described, I just sometimes use another fruit juice (orange, mandarine, whatever's in the fridge), and it is absolutely delicious. The only issue I have with it is that I have a hard time not eating the whole thing from the pan instead of packing it in our lunch boxes ! :-D

Thank you very much for posting these delicious recipes, I've pre-ordered your book, can't wait to read it :-)

Thanks for the recipe!

I love things that don't require a long evening spent over the store, at which everyone is gone to bed by the time dinner is prepared... :) (And it will be a yummy onigiri filling. )

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Has anyone tried making onigiri with this and then freezing the onigiri? How well does it freeze?

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

I just made this today for the first time, and it turned out amazing! It was really flavourful, really easy to make, and I'll definitely make it again.

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

I made this yesterday and I love it! It's true, you don't really get a strong taste of ginger or pineapple. It reminds me of when you get a dish at a restaurant and you can't quite tell what you're tasting, you just know you want some more.

It is very salty. This makes it perfect to have with rice or over buttered noodles, you just need to think of it as more of a condiment than a main dish. I think Maki's mentioned that before when talking about soboro.

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

Is the tuna in 'salted water' or is it in 'spring water'? the shop had both, so I bought both and now I'm afraid of making it wrong....

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

If you haven't gone on and tried one or the other already, I'd suggest the 'spring water' option -- it's easy to add a little more soy sauce if it doesn't turn out salty enough, but difficult to take it out.

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

I don't have any pinapple juice, but I have a large can of lychee's. I am gonna try it with that and see how it turns out. Also, does it have to be tuna? Would canned salmon work too?

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

I made this using Bragg's aminos instead of soy sauce, some minced pickled ginger, light syrup from a can of peaches and it is AMAZING. Thanks for this!

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

This was just delicious! Thank you very much for the recipe!

Re: Tuna soboro with ginger

I'm not a big fish eater, but my partner really likes the sound of this (and yay we can use it for Onigiri) so I was just wondering how Tuna in BRINE would affect it? (As I said, not big on tuna myself so can't even hazzard a guess and this is the only kind my local shop seems to have.)

Thanks for the recipe! Bookmarked! :)

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