As I unpacked from our quick island getaway, stowaway grains of Maui sand trickled out of my suitcase…welcome souvenirs of a much-needed escape from the busy summer we’ve had. Waking up each morning to the sound of waves crashing on the rocks outside our room and seeing nothing but blue water for miles and miles made it easy to fall into a routine of leisure. The morning runs/swim, lounging on the beach during the day and cocktails at sunset seem like a faraway dream now but the sounds and sights remain fond memories.
One of the treats of this vacation was all the fresh fish. Normally I avoid ordering fish since I’m too often disappointed by their preparation. Either bland and dry or the other extreme,swimming in so much butter that the essence of the fish is lost–can you tell I’m a bit picky with my fish?
On this last trip, however, I particularly enjoyed the ono (wahoo), a flaky, delicate fish most commonly found in Hawaiian waters and Tahiti. It was my fish of choice whenever I found it as a menu offering. I enjoyed my ono poached, grilled, steamed and curried and I savored every bite. When I returned home, I was anxious to recreate the flavors of my vacation.
One of my favorite vendors happened to have fresh sea bass fillets, a decent substitute for the ono, I thought. I prepared an easy marinade with miso paste and grilled the fish. Served with steamed rice flavored with turmeric and dotted with soy beans, corn and bell peppers (bagged, frozen from Trader Joe’s), I was transported back to Hawaii, even if it lasted only as long as dinner.
Note: In my excitement to find sea bass, I failed to check if it was in the “avoid” section of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list (MBA). Unfortunately, Chilean Sea Bass is not a recommended choice for seafood at this time. According to MBA, only certain Chilean sea bass fisheries are certified as sustainable to the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). More digging showed that many vendors and eateries will claim that their sea bass has been sustainably sourced when it hasn’t; only a small percentage of sea bass in the market bears MSC approval. I purchased my fish from a trusted gourmet shop but I will admit that I still don’t know the provenance of the particular fish I bought. I’m trying to be a responsible consumer but I may have erred here. I’m sharing this post anyway so you don’t make the same mistake I made. Feel free to use a different fish here if you like. The marinade should work just as well.
Grilled Miso-Marinated Sea Bass with Turmeric Rice
- One large fillet of fish, your choice
- 1 1/2 tbsp miso paste
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
- 3 tablespoons oil
- long-grain rice
- chicken stock (or use vegetable stock as a vegetarian option)
- turmeric powder
- mixed frozen vegetables