Hooked on Chilean Sea Bass

Columns Ono, You Know

May 31, 2015

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

From fresh poke and world-class sushi to grilled mahi mahi, hamachi, onaga, you name it, we are no strangers to incredible fish here in the Islands.

To all my fellow seafood lovers out there, I’m calling on you to join me in an exciting culinary challenge this week. Let’s get creative and forego our usual orders for something new — say, exclusive and upscale, yet completely approachable Chilean sea bass.

For those of us who regularly dine on sun-kissed, Pacific-water catches, this fish offers an exotic alternative, hailing from the deep, dark and icy-cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean, among other frosty corners of the Earth.

In top-notch kitchens across the globe, chefs praise Chilean sea bass for its ability to hold up to a wide range of cooking processes. The versatile white fish is similar to cod, and at both of the Ono You Know standouts I visited recently, it is regarded as a blank canvas upon which chefs may use their imagination to artistically blend flavors that meld beautifully with its buttery meat.

Before long, you too will fall hook, line and sinker for this specialty!

Rijo Restaurant

Nearly four months ago, Rijo Restaurant opened in Harbor Court condominium, offering diners a contemporary Japanese menu under the direction of executive chef Yoichi Saito. Originally from Japan, Saito’s background includes working in the restaurant industry in New York, California and here in Hawaii.

With a variety of food preparations under his belt, the chef blends Japanese cooking techniques with European, Asian and local flavors in Sizzling Gin Mutsu ($32). First and foremost, the dish highlights pan-seared gin mutsu, or Chilean sea bass, which is a popular eat in Japan. “It’s very moist, on the fatty side and very flaky, so that’s why Chef really prefers using Chilean sea bass. It’s one of his favorite types of fish,” says restaurant manager Kelvin Nakahata.

Alongside the filet, Chinese-style black bean sauce mingles wonderfully with French-inspired yuzu vin blanc, a citrusy white wine butter sauce. Rounding out this complex mélange of flavors are garlic spinach and slightly sweet pureed kobocha. When these ingredients are enjoyed all together, the dish becomes sweet-and-savory harmony.

“Chef has freedom to create dishes like Sizzling Gin Mutsu, where you can take Japanese items and fuse all those flavors together to make something different,” adds Nakahata.

As an added bonus, the dish stands out for its artful presentation, which mimics the colorful works of art found on the restaurant’s walls. And trust me, it tastes just as good as it looks!

Rijo Restaurant
Harbor Court, third floor
66 Queen St.
208-8180

3360 On The Rise

When seeking a good spot to find my next bite of Chilean sea bass bliss, I knew I could turn to the talented culinary team at 3660 On The Rise, one of Oahu’s leading Pacific Rim dining establishments since 1992.

The eatery’s recently revamped menu features an appetizer fit for the Gods: Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass ($14). A 3 1/4- ounce filet is marinated overnight in olive oil, garlic, basil and thyme before it is panroasted to goodness when ordered. To accompany the fish, chef de cuisine Lydell Leong prepares a brown butter sauce accented with lemon and parsley. “We start to let it brown really slowly so it gets a nice brown color, and it takes on this nutty aroma,” he describes.

3660’s Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass ($14) A. CONSILLIO PHOTO

3660’s Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass ($14) A. CONSILLIO PHOTO

The Chilean sea bass is served on a bed of mesclun ’Nalo greens and drizzled with a few drops of vinegary caper juice, which bring balance to the rich sauce. A side of hericot vert (thin green beans), salty fried capers and the welcomed crunch of a Romano cheese tuile (thin, crispy wafer) further complement the supple fish.

Applauding its substantial quality, Leong says he initially sought after this seafood because “it’s a white fish that has a flavor of its own, but it adapts well to very many different flavors.”

You’ll be happy to know that Leong did his homework in ensuring the restaurant’s Chilean sea bass is responsibly sourced. When the catch gained attention 10 to 15 years ago for being overfished, strict regulations and monitoring were enforced to address the issue. Today, sustainable seafood advisory source Sea Watch notes that all shipments of Chilean sea bass in the United States must be pre-approved, and provides recommendations for “best choice” or “good alternative” options.

3660 On The Rise
3660 Waialae Ave.
737-1177