Beggin’ For Butterfish
Soft pieces of white fish ooze with oily succulence, as a sweet miso glaze caramelizes each bite. Across Hawaii’s scene of Japanese and contemporary restaurants, many a patron can be found digging into these tender morsels of misoyaki butterfish, their chopsticks navigating around tiny bones to get to the prized, buttery meat.
Misoyaki butterfish always will remain a local treasure as one of the most popular fish preparations in the Islands. But if you dare to venture beyond this kamaaina-approved presentation of black cod, you’ll soon discover — as I have — that the rich yet supple fish also pairs perfectly with a wide range of flavorful sauces and marinades. For that reason, Ono, You Know can only thank miso butterfish for providing a most delicious entrance into a whole new world of black cod fillets worth trying right now.
ORDER IT KOREAN-STYLE
This past week, my taste buds were delighted to find out that black cod is a match made in heaven for the kaleidoscope of spices used in Korean cooking. The place I found this out is a hidden gem that specializes in serving an authentic taste of Korea: Seoul Jung, tucked away on the second floor of Waikiki Resort Hotel.
There, you’ll find what the staff describes as the Korean version of misoyaki butterfish, Yoojaecheong Eundaegu Jorim ($33.50). This feast of black cod is presented with tofu and rice cake in an anchovy-based broth made sizzling with a host of fiery seasonings. That’s right, this dish is for those who are not afraid of a little heat, as it’s spiced up with jalapeno, chili powder and dried chili pepper. Additional touches of ginger, garlic, green onion, daikon, soy sauce, sake and cooking wine render this flavor profile irresistible, while citrus sauce and lemons bring their balancing brightness.
“This is a traditional, authentic Korean dish,” says food and beverage manager Edwin Dagdag, who adds that “it is a spicy dish that enhances the natural flavor of the black cod.”
The sharable entree is one of the best-sellers at Seoul Jung, where guests can savor it while grilling up Korean barbecue at their table, or simply ordering classic dishes off the menu in the restaurant’s main dining room. When you go to try it, be sure to ask your server about Seoul Jung’s recently introduced menu that features10 new items as well as a host of customer favorites. The eatery also reminds readers that a 20 percent discount is offered to seniors ages 55 and older.
Waikiki Resort Hotel
2460 Koa Ave., Waikiki
FLAVORS OF JAPAN
Seeing as misoyaki butterfish sings with Japanese culinary influences, it comes as no surprise that The Land of the Rising Sun offers many ways to enjoy the flaky, tender fish.
You can sample a host of Japanese-style butterfish, or black cod, dishes Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen, the old-school eatery that has been serving Hawaii’s families for more than 80 years. The Kaimuki Avenue establishment dishes out Fried Butterfish with or without Miso Sauce, and Yosenabe soup with butterfish and a host of other meats and veggies. The fish also may be requested as an entree choice in Sekiya’s popular Combination Special full-course meals (for a small additional fee).
One of the most popular recipes on the menu, however, is Nitsuke Butterfish (18.95). The entree is similar to miso-style preparations in that it has a touch of sweetness, but, in this case, that sweet-savory mixture comes from Sekiya’s homemade nitsuke sauce, consisting of shoyu and sugar. The teriyaki-like glaze is perfect for drizzling over the hot rice that accompanies the meal.
Like many of Sekiya’s dishes, Nitsuke Butterfish also comes with miso soup, green tea and tsukemono (pickled vegetables). General manager Faye Hara recommends adding tofu to the dish for an additional $1.50, just as her regular customers do.
Hara adds that if you come in to try these butterfish dishes, or any others for that matter, Monday is a great day to do it, as the restaurant offers a 10 percent discount for seniors on that day (note: discount applies for entire check, not just seniors’). And while you’re there, be sure to check out the popular okazu counter to take home some delectable Japanese-style deli bites.
Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen
2746 Kaimuki Ave., Kaimuki