While staying with my folks over the holidays, I wanted to try another item from Murata-san’s Kasieki cookbook. While looking through to see what I could reasonably handle, I decided on doing the Kikunoi Pompano Grilled Nanban Style. An online version of the recipe can be found here:
Because I didn’t like the way the big diver scallops looked at market, I chose to focus on the fish rather than doing the whole recipe that included the karasumi/bottarga dusted scallops. And while Mitsuwa, Edgewater didn’t have the kujo negi and shishito pepper (the day I went to buy ingredients), I decided that the nice big tokyo negi and jalapeno would be reasonable substitutes (the recipe calls for a ‘small Japanese chili pepper’).
So I prepared all the marinade ingredients; I decided to err on the side of caution in the case of jalapeno – I took out the seeds and carefully de-ribbed the pepper. I also weighed out the tokyo negi and got it minced
up for the marinade.
I then weighed out the ginger, got it peeled and cut it into about 4 slices.
Once the ginger, pepper and tokyo negi were done, I went about getting the liquid base of the marinade prepared.
The first thing I had to do to prepare the liquid base was that I needed to make the nikiri sake; so I measured out about a cup and brought it to a boil and let it run for about a minute or two to evaporate off the alcohol – which brought me to about the 6 oz I needed for the dish. Then it was just simply a matter of adding in the other liquids. The other problem I ran into was that there was no fresh yuzu at Mitsuwa, Edgewater when I went to get ingredients; so I decided I try to address that issue by adding a splash of yuzu juice to the marinade. Once I finished making the marinade, I put 4 pompano fillets into a gallon ziploc bag and poured in the marinade. I zipped up the bag and put it into the refridgerator to marinate for a day (I know, I know, it said 12 hours). I possibly did make one mistake when I pulled the fish out to cook the next day – I’d forgotten to score the pompano skin before combining the fish with the marinade (I’ll get to that later).
Making the ‘condiment/topping’ in the dish was essentially a repeat of making the marinade; however the ginger here had to be initially prepared much like the Nobu julienned ginger, much as it’s used in the New Style Sashimi or steamed fish dish. The julienned ginger was then finely cross-cut (minced) for the topping. The other difference was that the topping used 2 Tbsps. nikiri sake, 2 Tbsps. water, 2 tsps. usukuchi soy sauce and 2 tsps. mirin. So all those items were combined and set aside for about an hour to macerate (the day I pulled out the fish from the marinate to cook). One observation – the topping reminded me a little of Iron Chef Morimoto’s Scallion Ginger Sauce.
The next day I preheated the countertop oven as hot as I could get it. I got the fish out of the marinade, wiped the skin down so that it was nice and dry. The countertop over was switched to broil mode and I popped the fish onto the upper rack level to broil for about 10 minutes.
While I was preparing the fish, my wife helped out by preparing a garlic sautee of romaine hearts and carrots. When the I pulled the pompano out of the broiler, I put them on top of a plate the sauteed romaine and put a bit of the condiment to the side.
Upon trying the dish, my folks, my wife and I all agreed all the flavors were really nice, the fish was cooked through but not overcooked and the condiment was a nice flavor contrasting option. The only issue, I felt was the skin – it didn’t crisp up enough for a textural contrast. Recalling that I’d forgotten to score the skin on the fillets, I’m willing to bet, the scoring would’ve probably allowed underlying moisture to escape so that the skin would have gotten nice and dry. I’m planning on trying to do this dish again in the near future; and when I do, I hope I have the fresh yuzu on hand and I’ve got to remember to score the skin of the pompano fillet.