Chile Fish with Yuzu Paste
You may have noticed that I eat (and thus am posting) a lot more fish than before. That's because I just found a new seafood market right on Tully road, in San Jose. The fishmonger always surprises me with his freshest catch. My most recent purchase was a couple of beautiful halibut steaks. Halibut is a very delicate fish so I had to use ingredients that accentuate without overpowering. First, I cleaned and rinsed the fish in lemony, salted water. The marinade time was fairly brief and contained the bare minimum: chile, onion and yuzu paste.
I pan-fried the halibut steaks, to which I added fried chiles and onions as garnish. It’s always nice to give hints of what flavors are in the dish. The reason I used a generous amount of jalapeno chile is to prevent the fish from being tanh ("fishy" in Vietnamese). Maman used to say that there are two rules for making a good seafood dish: the fresher the product, the better it will taste and chile can be used to mask any unpleasant odor.
Yields: 6 servings3 halibut steaks
1-½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons yuzu paste
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 tablespoons canola oil
3 whole jalapeño peppers
Prepping the chiles: Roast, stem, seed and finely chop 2 peppers. Thinly slice the last pepper. Note: remember not to rub your eyes after touching jalapeño pepper seeds.
Prepping the halibut:
Ask your fishmonger to prep the fish steaks. Make sure the fish skin is scaled. Wash and rinse the fish. Place the fish steaks in a small, shallow dish. Drizzle with a mixture of lemon juice and salt. Let sit for about 5 minutes then rinse the fish and pat dry using paper towels.
In a mortar and pestle, grind half the amount of the onion, chopped jalapeño peppers and yuzu paste into a thick paste. Coat the fish steaks. Drizzle with a little oil. Marinate the fish for no more than 30 minutes.
Pat the fish dry one more time. Season both sides with salt. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil and fry the remaining chopped onion for about 6-8 minutes until golden. Remove the onion and set aside. Place the steaks in the fragrant oil, making sure they don't touch each other. Jiggle the pan to make sure the fish is totally coated with oil, do not hesitate to take oil from the bottom of the pan and cover the fish with more oil. Cook for about 3 minutes until lightly golden (depending on the thickness of the steak). Flip each piece (I use chopsticks, which I find easier to maneuver; you could use a slotted fish turner) and pan-fry the other side for another 3-4 minutes until crispy and lightly browned. Jiggle the pan again. Place the fish steaks on paper towels. Set aside.
To check the "doneness," the color of the meat should be white and opaque. If it's still clear to translucent, put it back in the oil for another 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to a deep serving platter. Cover with the fried onions and garnish with slices of jalapeños.
You can find yuzu paste in most Asian specialty markets. It has a coarse texture, similar to pesto and adds a burst of spicy and fresh flavor to any seafood dishes, with a touch of citrus zing.
Onions gives a natural sweet note to the dish. You could replace with shallots if you want a stronger flavor.Published By: on March 20, 2012.