Having enjoyed two different raw preparations of my Kona Kampachi recently, I thought it was time to explore how this fish cooks. Being a Hawaiian fish, my first inclination was to aim for something Polynesian in nature, but then I drifted towards Asian flavors. I also wanted to give this fish a good sear, but not cook much beyond medium-rare. Combining these two ideas, I decided on a sweet, spicy, light sauce to glaze the fish during its brief vacation under the broiler.
I was inspired by one of my favorite Asian food bloggers take on this fish, so I thought I’d try to take that idea in another direction. This glaze had distinct Asian flavors (to speak in such broad strokes. I have such a strong culinary lexicon!)–think of the sharpness of things like five spice, the heat of ginger and cayenne peppers, and the sweetness of honey and mirin. It was lightly spicy, tangy, salty, and sweet, all in great balance. Combined with sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, this dish has a really strong flavor that greatly complements the juicy, buttery qualities of the Kona Kampachi without getting in the way of it.
The overall taste was really impressive. Also, being the first cooked preparation of this fish, I was really impressed with how different it was from the raw preparations and how beautifully it responds to heat. The fish took on a nice sear while staying really moist, tender, and buttery in flavor and texture. Also, to keep with the Asian theme as well as the seasons, I opted for a slightly different noodle to serve this over that paired beautifully with this fish: flaked strands of spaghetti squash!
- ~1/2 lb Kona Kampachi
- sesame oil
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 inch knob of ginger
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 cayenne peppers
- 1 star anise
- dash ground allspice
- 1/8 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp honey
- dash of sriracha
- canola oil
- 1 spaghetti squash
- sesame seeds
Begin by preparing the sauce/glaze. This is pretty simple really: make a fine paste of the garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper in your food processor.
In a saucepan, heat up a bit of sesame oil. Once hot, sauté the whole spices for a minute or until they begin to perfume. Then, add the garlic/ginger/pepper paste to the oil for about a minute, after which, you should mix in all of the remaining sauce ingredients.
Simmer and reduce this over medium-high heat for about 5-10 minutes. The sauce should get pretty thick.
During all of this, if serving with spaghetti squash, don’t forget to cook the squash! This is probably the most time consuming part of the dish. I boiled the squash whole for 20-30 minutes, cut it in half, removed the seeds (and don’t you dare throw them out–they’re just like pumpkin seeds!), and then scraped out the flesh using a fork so that it looked like noodles (if you’ve never done this before, I promise, the squash does all the work for you. Its an amazing thing).
Now, with everything else ready, onto the fish. Warm up a pan with a spot of canola oil (just to ensure the fish doesn’t stick) under the broiler. Lightly season the fish with a dash of salt and pepper, and get the fish in the pan. Depending how done you want your fish to be, vary the cooking time a bit. I wanted to keep things to a minimum, so I broiled for no more than 1 minute per side.
Now, with the fish seared, remove it from oven, dip it in the thickened sauce to coat it all over, and get it right back under the broiler for another minute or so to thicken the glaze up a bit.
In a dry pan, also briefly toast some sesame seeds for a minute or two, applying them to the glazed fish for flavor and for garnish. Serve the fish over pulled spaghetti squash and use the remaining glaze as a sauce (it will ultimately mix into the squash). Garnish the plate with some snipped scallions and enjoy!