Don’t worry, I’m not trying to kill you with this dish. For unlike Fugu, their extraordinarily poisonous cousins from the east, the blowfish found off the coast of Long Island is completely harmless. Not only that, they’re quick to prepare and very tasty. I decided to use some Asian flavours as a little nod to their Japanese heritage by marinading them in a miso based sauce and then sautéing them with some Hakurei turnips and simply steamed Bok Choy.
When you buy blowfish, you get their tails, often with fins still attached. The thick spine bone runs down the centre giving them an appearance somewhere between jumbo prawns and chicken drumsticks. My fishmonger recalled how when she was young they used to catch these by the bucketload, but that they haven’t been seen much in many years. It seems that there was a red tide in the Atlantic in the ’70s that all but wiped out these barrel chested chaps. But in the last few years they have been reappearing in gradually increasing numbers. This was my first meeting with them, but it certainly wont be the last. The meat is firm and mild; kind of like monkfish. It seems they are often prepared by simply frying them, with or without batter. Next time I might try roasting them wrapped in prosciutto with some tomatoes by the side maybe some olives too.
But for now, back to my miso-ness. I got the idea from the “Lighthearted Locavore” after browsing around for ideas. The marinade matches their ratio, but I made quite a lot less and decided to use it to glaze the fish and the turnips as I cooked them. The flavours of the miso were strong, so to go with it some simple steamed red bok choy and Japanese short grain rice were all that was needed. I love this sort of dish: rich deeply satisfying flavours and mild, wholesome accompaniments. I love it even more when it takes less than thirty minutes to cook.
I should also mention the seasoning I used on the dish: Shichimi Togarishi. It’s a Japanese 7 spice powder that contains red pepper, sesame, orange peel, yuzu, Japanese pepper, seaweed and hempseed. It’s traditionally used for shaking on Nabemono—one pot dishes—but to be honest, I love it on most things. It’s by turns a little earthy, a little citrusy and a little spicy. Very good stuff.
- 4 Blowfish Tails
- 1 teaspoon Barley Miso
- 3 teaspoons Mirin
- 2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
- 4 teaspoons water
- Small Bunch of Hakurei Turnips (also known as Japanese Turnips), roots washed and stems saved if they look good.
- 1/2 a bunch of Bok Choy
- Combine the Miso, Mirin, Soy and water and put in a ziploc bag with the fish. Leave for thirty minutes or so to marinate.
- In a broad sauté pan heat a little oil over a medium heat gently cook the turnips, moving them around occasionally.
- Put a pan of water on the stove with a steamer basket inserted and get it up to simmering while you cook the fish.
- Lift the fish out of the marinade and pop in the pan with the turnips. You will want to keep them moving a bit so the miso doesn't scorch, but be gentle. After three or four minutes, add a couple of teaspoons of the marinade and the same amount of water, give everything a stir and put a lid on it a little askew so some steam can escape.
- Now add the bok choy to the steamer ; it will take just three or four minutes to be bright green, wilted and ready to eat.
- Give the fish and turnips one last stir to coat everything in the glaze and serve with the bok choy and some simple boiled rice.
- 1/2 cup Japanese Short Grain Rice
- 1/2 cup Water
- Wash the rice! I know it seems like a ballache, but it really does make a difference to the end result. Give it four or five changes of water until the water comes out almost clear. Drain and add the same volume of water as rice.
- It's a good idea to let it sit for a while before cooking. What I do is prep the rice at the start of making my dish and set it aside until about twenty minutes before I need it. When it's cooking time, bring the water to a boil and immediately turn down as low as you can get. The rice is done when all the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave for a few minutes before fluffing up with a fork or chopsticks.
Pairing with Miso Glazed Blowfish
The obvious match here is Sake or a good Japanese beer (I prefer Yebisu, but Sapporo and Kirin are also lovely). If you’re staying off the sauce, maybe an Oolong tea would be good.
Blowfish: P.E & D.D. Seafood
Soy Sauce, Organic Mirin, Togarishi Shichimi: Sunrise Mart
Barley Miso: Miso Master Organic
Hakurei Turnips: Gorzynski’s Ornery Farm
Red Bok Choy: S & S.O. Produce
Japanese short grain rice: Kagayaki, from Sunrise Mart