A couple of months ago I took an interest on trying Nobu Miami’s Branzino Tempura With Florida Amazu (p. 95, 96). From past experience, making the branzino tempura itself wasn’t a big deal. However, making the sauce was a surprise. Both my wife and I felt the sauce was way too sweet; we actually wondered if this was a type of sweet and sour sauce. After a couple of phone calls, I had the privilege to begin an email conversation with Chef Buckley – co-author of Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook. After explaining my situation with Chef Buckley, he graciously provided the ‘original Florida Amazu’ recipe from the restaurant ‘notebook’.
The original recipe specified (with the implied microbatch version):
* 1000 ml minneola juice implying 5 ml implies 25 ml or 5 tsp implying 1 Tbls + 2 tsp
* 200 ml usukuchi soy implying 1 ml implying 5 ml or 1 tsp
* 600 ml amazu implying 3 ml implying 15 ml or 3 tsp implying 1 Tbls
(ml to tsp conversion taken from Nobu: The Cookbook, p. 20) So the microbatch yield was 3 Tbls of sauce.
The microbatch amazu recipe based on Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook (p. 183) turns out to be:
1 T rice vinegar
1 t + 1/2 t + 1/2 t + 1/4 t (or 2 1/4 t) sugar
1/4 t + 1/16 t salt
whose yield is 1 T + 2 t + 1/2 t + 1/16 t= 1 T + 2 t + 9/16 t amazu
The key observation here is that there was 2 1/4 t sugar in the microbatch as compared to the 3 Tbls of sugar listed in the actual Florida Amazu (p. 96). My sense is that it’s possible that there was a typo since the 2 9/16 tsp sugar approached 3 tsp sugar. So instead of the actual 1 Tbls of sugar, 3 t sugar might have been typo’d as 3 Tbls.
So imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered Whole Foods in my area were selling mineola oranges/tangerines this
past weekend. Now I had another chance to try the recipe. Juicing a nice mineola yielded about 1/3 cup of filtered juice
Since the microbatch had a yield of 3 Tbls, I chose to double the receipe for myself and my wife. So I needed to make:
Nobu Miami Amazu
2 T rice vinegar
1 T + 1 1/2 t sugar
1/2 t + 1/8 t salt
Nobu Miami Florida Amazu
3 T + 1 t mineola juice
2 t usukuchi soy
2 T amazu
So I began to assemble the sauce before dinner. I got the seasoning cast of characters together –
The amazu base would be the sugar, vinegar and salt, the rest of the sauce ingredients would just be the usukuchi soy sauce and mineola juice. So I started with the amazu base by measuring out the sugar and salt
and then measured out 2 Tbls of rice vinegar
and got them into a warm preheated saucepot to quickly dissolve the dry ingredients
with the vinegar to complete the amazu. Then it was just a matter of measuring out the light soy sauce and then
blending in the mineola juice
and then adding in the appropriate amount of amazu to finish the sauce.
Now it was just a matter of making the vodka tempura batter which was just
3/4 c all purpose flour
1 egg yolk (large)
200 ml (about 1 cup) ice cold (Absolut) vodka
While the recipe calls for 1 1/3 lb of whole branzino, I got 4 filets totaling about 1 lb from my local Whole Foods which
I cut into 16 pieces (a bit more than called for in the recipe). I know the recipe said to dredge the pieces of fish, but I thought I would be ok to ‘shake-n-bake’ it.
Once I got the fish ‘dredged’ in the flour, I started making the batter.
I measured out the flour, separated an egg yolk, measured out some ice cold Absolut
and then quickly mixed the batter with chopsticks – making sure not to over mix it.
Once I got the batter done, my spouse wanted to do the deep frying since she’s done a lot of tonkatsu and thought she could do
a good job of cooking it. I stood by and recorded that, for us, it took about 5 minutes to get it nice and crisp with the right color at 50% max heat on our stove. By the way – my wife really makes a mean tonkatsu.
While we didn’t garnish the dish with thinly shredded red onion, thinly sliced serrano and cilantro, we did have grilled asparagus and carrots as well as the Florida Amazu sauce. While I presented the fried branzino on tempura paper, I had been thinking about serving the tempura on shredded lettuce. Both my wife and I put out a bowl of shredded lettuce almost as a palate refresher. On tasting the branzino tempura, my wife and both thought the sauce pairing gave it a wonderful fragrance and an acidic sweetness to provided a balanced contrast the lightly salted fried richness of the fish. The next time I do a version of this dish, I’ll have to remember to provide some fresh shredded red onion.
Chef Buckley thank you so much – I’m grateful for your help and guidance in making this dish. Thank you Matsuhisa-sama for sharing the recipe.