Go Home, Cook Rice: Miso Butterfish

One of the hundreds of great things about living in Hawaii is the access to simple and quick healthy meals that only require a pot of home-cooked hot rice and a few minutes of skillet time. Misoyaki Butterfish fillets are available in almost every grocery, pre-marinated in a boozy miso-laced sake marinade that permeates the flaky silken butterfish, aka black cod or sablefish. Served with deli-made sea salad (sesame sea grass) or marinated warabi (fiddlehead) greens, as pictured above, misoyaki butterfish brings fine dining home. (The fish above and below were from purchased, pre-marinated filets.)

If you don’t find pre-marinated butterfish filets at your local market, try this marinade at home. We’ve used this recipe before, and have stored it away for a day when we will not find marinated butterfish filets in the local markets. I gave the fish 2 days marinating time, but 3 would have been better. Give yourself the full 3 days marination for the most flavorful results. You can try this marinade with any flaky white fish, but if you can find sable fish or black cod, try it with this fish. There is a synergy that happens between the flavors in the marinade and the texture of butterfish that is infinitely greater than the sum of the parts.

(Also check out rowena’s take on Miso Monkfish with a laulau-esque presentation alla Italia.)

4 1/2lb. (220g) filets of butterfish (aka black cod or sablefish)
1-1/2 cups (300ml) Japanese sake (rice wine)
3/4 cups (150ml) mirin
1-1/2 cups raw sugar
2 cups (450g) white (aka shiro) miso

Combine sake, mirin and sugar and bring just to a boil over high heat. Immediately turn heat down to medium and stir well to dissolve sugar. Add miso paste, and incorporate completely. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and cool completely.

Pat filets dry, then cover with marinade, seal well and refrigerate for 3 days.

When ready to cook, preheat a small pan in the oven at 350F/180C. (A small tabletop oven or toaster oven is perfect for this.)

Pre-heat your pan, and add 2 TBL. olive oil. You can pat filets with paper toweling, but don’t rinse with water. Place the skinless side down first, and gently (very gently) press to make contact with the pan. After a full minute or so, the glaze should release from the pan (i.e., not stick), and you can turn it to the other side for browning. After 30 seconds, put the filets on the pre-heated pan in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the fish flakes with a fork. Serve with rice, sesame-laced vegetables (see Warabior Watercress recipes) or sea salad, and Namasu.