While trying to plan for dinner this week, a thought crossed my mind about mackerel nigiri. Remembering how Matsuhisa-sama makes ‘cooked’ versions of his famous nigiri offereings (think new style sashimi/steamed fish with new style oil and sashimi with dry miso/steamed chilean seabass with dry miso), traditional mackerel nigiri came to mind. Many of the times when I’ve had mackerel nigiri, it’s been topped with a little ginger and finely minced green scallion. So when I came across the Lamb Carpaccio With scallion ginger sauce in Morimoto: The New Art Of Japanese Cooking, I thought, “GREAT!” (especially when he mentioned it would go well with grilled fish). So I imagined I’d get all of the same flavor profiles of the mackerel nigiri with the ginger/scallion by pairing up the sauce and crispy skin mackerel.
So the day before I was going to make the meal, I decided to make the scallion ginger sauce ahead. I got together 1 finally minced scallion (cleaned, de-rooted), 2 tablespoons of peeled grated ginger
(Morimoto calls for finely minced) and 2 oz of heated grapeseed oil. I couldn’t get a hold of the pickled wasabi root; but fortunately, it was optional. So, as per the recipe directions, I carefully lined the scallion/ginger mix at the bottom of a heat proof bowl and carefully poured in the very hot
(barely smoking) grapeseed oil. Boy – did that cause a huge foam up of a sizzle. I sort of half expected the sizzle with the experience of pouring Nobu’s New Style Oil over ginger, scallion/chives
and grated garlic on steamed fish. But I must say, the bubbling sizzle was a lot larger than I expected. It’s a good thing I stood well back and used a long handled sauce pot to pour the oil. Once the sauce was made, I let it sit out for about an hour and then
got it into the refridgerator to chill.
So when I finally got Whole Foods, Newtonville, I wandered over to the seafood counter. I was disappointed to discover that there was no mackerel to be had. So I selected fresh branzino fillets. The only question now was, “what vegetable(s) do I pair with this dish?” My wife volunteered to do a stir fry of carrots, zucchini, onion and garlic.
So when I got home, my wife started on the stir fry. I got the countertop oven preheated to 475
degrees F (to make sure the oven was hot enough to go to broiler mode. The branzino fillets were seasoned on both sides with 4:1 salt/pepper mix (2 3 finger pinches/side). I lined the countertop oven tray with non-stick aluminum foil and moved the fillets onto the foil-llined tray. The tray was then placed on the upper shelf inside the countertop over to cook for about 8 minutes. While the fillets were cooking, I portioned out the stir fry of vegetables onto the plates and placed the scallion ginger sauce in a parallel line opposite the vegetables. And then it was just a matter of moving the broiled branzino atop the vegetables.
I did have one major surprise about the sauce. I was really worried that the ginger component would have an overpowering bite to it. But I was startled to find how mild the ginger was. I suspect the near elimination of the ginger ‘bite’ was due to its partial cooking when I completed the sauce by pouring the extremely hot grapeseed oil over it. Both my wife and I enjoyed the combined flavors of the scallion ginger sauce with the salt/pepper seasoned fish. My wife went so far as to ask with what other things we could use the sauce; Iron Chef Morimoto mentions that the scallion ginger sauce goes great with other proteins as well. I still want use this sauce with mackerel…..