Nobu Steamed Chilean Seabass With Spicy Black Bean Sauce

It’s been a busy week and so I thought I’d do another steamed fish recipe for supper tonight (26 Apr 2012).  The dish I chose to do might be considered an amalgam of Nobu’s  Steamed Chilean Seabass with Black Bean Sauce and Steamed Dover Sole with Spicy Black Bean Sauce from Nobu: The Cookbook.  An online version of the recipe can be found here –

Indeed, Matsuhisa-sama mentions that he uses Dover sole with just the black bean sauce, so I thought, why not retrofit the spicy black bean sauce to the chilean seabass?   So from his cookbook, he mixes up 2 tablespoons of black bean sauce with 1 tablespoon of the chinese spicy bean sauce – and for the chilean seabass I bought, I doubled the amount.   It’s actually a pretty straight forward

(l to r) Chinese Tobanjang (spicy bean sauce), fermented salted black bean sauce/paste (available at Kam Man Market, Quincy, MA)

Spciy Black Bean Sauce mixed up

recipe (though I skipped the extra sake).  On the side, I shaved some peeled ginger and then julienned it as finely as I could.  I also got a package of chives cleaned (whichI bought at Whole Foods, Newtonville, MA )and instead of cutting them into 1 1/2″ lengths, I mode the decision to finely mince them.  I portion out the chilean seabass fillet (my wife wanted a smaller piece), seasoned them with about a teaspoon of 4:1 salt/pepper mix and got them into the steaming plate.  I poured over two tablespoons of sake and then covered the fillets with the fermented black

4:1 salt/pepper seasoned fillets with sake poured over

bean/spicy bean sauce mixture and layered on the shredded ginger (Nobu has the ginger sitting in

Chilean seabass covered with spicy black bean sauce/paste and then the shredded ginger

cold water for application AFTER cooking, but I thought it would save time by putting in the ginger during the cooking process to lessen its bite).  The fish was covered and placed into a steamer for 12 minutes on high heat.

Once that was done, I got the fish out, transferred the pieces to the serving plate and spooned out a little of the cooking juices over the fish (In retrospect, I’ll add at least two more tablespoons of sake the next time I make this dish, the amount of cooking liquid was on the low side).  I ‘blanketed’ the top of the fish with the minced chives.  I mixed up 6 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and got it smoking hot.  Once the oil was ready, I carefully spooned  about 3 tablespoons of the hot oil over the minced chives (remember, the julienned ginger was underneath the chives) and watched the whole thing ‘sizzle’!

Finished dish with the hot new-style oil poured over the finely minced chives

I think, in the future, I’ll be using minced chives/scallions if I’m going to be doing hot oil applications over them.  Just using spears doesn’t seem the get the real dramatic sizzle/cooking finishing effect.  My wife and I were pleasantly surprised by the way the dinner turned out.  We were both concerned that the mix of fermented black bean and spicy bean paste/sauces would not cook through and the dish would have a lingering raw bean-like flavor.  The other concern we had was that the amount of chinese tobanjang would be overpoweringly spicy (recall the amount used by Iron Chef Chen in his dishes)/  Instead, we found a deeply satisfying umami effect that enhanced the natural juicy ‘sweetness’ of the chilean seabass and a light to moderate spicy note the balance the other flavors in the dish.

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