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Friday, May 13, 2011


Remembering Ohana Seafoods’ Jeffrey Yee part 2: miso butterfish

by Nanette Geller

Last week I wrote about the passing of Jeffrey Yee and described how I had used his Korean sauce with ahi steaks. The other Ohana Seafoods marinade that I always keep on hand is the Japanese-style white miso sauce. Miso is often used as a pickling medium in Japan, with white miso being used most commonly for seafood and chicken, and red miso for red meats or vegetables. White miso is especially good with oily fish like butterfish, which is how we often see it here in Hawaii. The salty miso cuts the “fishiness” while deepening the rich flavor and accenting the luxurious texture.

In Hawaii, miso butterfish is commonly cooked in a pan with the marinade, which is used as a sauce. This is, in fact, the method that I use for salmon with Korean sauce and sorrel. For butterfish, however, I prefer to use it as the Japanese do. After marinating the fish for one to three days I lightly rinse off the marinade, pat the fish dry, and broil it. The result is succulent, moist flesh contrasting with crispy, savory skin.


miso butterfish


The butterfish (from Straight from the Source at the Wednesday farmers market at Blaisdell) was marinated for two days. In Japan, broiled fish is often served with grated daikon radish to cut the oiliness and aid digestion. It’s also delicious, one of those felicitous pairings that are better than the sum of its parts.

Broiled shiitake mushrooms with a bit of soy sauce, calamansi juice, and ginger.

Japanese cucumber thinly sliced, salted, and left with a weight on top for half and hour to draw out the excess liquid. Squeeze dry and taste for salt. If too salty rinse and again squeeze dry. Mix with Japanese rice vinegar, a little sugar, and just a touch of soy sauce.

Greens dressed with peanut butter, mirin, and key lime juice.

When we’d finished our sake, I served rice with furikake (seasoned seaweed sprinkles) and clear soup with wakame seaweed, green onion and ginger.


The fish is cured by the salty miso marinade, so it keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator. I usually make extra so we can enjoy a second dinner later in the week.

I was thinking of Jeffrey Yee while I prepared this dinner with the leftover miso butterfish. Nobu Matsuhisa is famous for his miso-marinated butterfish (black cod), but his restaurants are far too pricy for most of us to visit even once. How fortunate we are in Hawaii that this exquisite dish is available at an affordable price in local restaurants or to be prepared at home! Ohana Seafoods marinated miso butterfish is available in some supermarkets and even at Costco but I prefer to buy it (either the marinated fish or just the marinade) at KCC Farmers Market. I will miss chatting with Jeffrey, but his family is carrying on with both the products and the farmers market stand.

miso butterfish 2


Leftover butterfish, reheated in the toaster oven, served on a shiso leaf with grated daikon, broiled shiitake and calamansi.

Pit Farm had long, thin green peppers they labeled as “sweet peppers.” Although they were longer than the ones in Japan, I was pretty sure they were shishito peppers, which are sweet but with a mild heat as well. I cut off the stems and sautéed them whole with a little oil and a pinch of salt over high heat until the skins were blistered all over. Add mirin and soy sauce, reduce to a glaze, and allow to cool. Just before serving I added some shaved katsuobushi (dried bonito).

Lightly pickled baby hakurei turnips.

Cucumber (prepared as above) with wakame seaweed.

The sake is Tsukinokatsura. It was our favorite when we lived in Japan but until recently we couldn’t find it here. It’s now available at The Sake Shop and Tamura’s.

We opted to skip rice and soup in order to leave room for a luscious, perfectly ripe cherimoya for dessert.




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