I could consider myself a mongrel chef. Having been trained in the art of fine dining at a young age to then study at a French-inspired culinary school followed by 10 years of free reign on the sea adapting to thousands of guests’ every weird and wonderful request, leaves me with a mixed sense of cuisine loyalty. I love food. I love the methods applied, the ingredients melded, and the reactions received.
All of which leads me to this dish.
The birth of this dish did not come from one of my Chinese vacations, Japanese excursions or even off an Asian cooking network. It came from what was available to me in my dry stores and fridge and somehow it ended up with an Asian theme. This dish is far from traditional, however not far from delicious. This recipe feeds 10.
The point of my ever-rambling story is simple: Cooking should come with no warning. There should never be strings attached. Always cross the line. And most importantly, cook from the heart.
For the vegetables:
1 large parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
10 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup rice wine vinegar
10 pink peppercorns
1 small ginger bulb, peeled and sliced
4 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 bay leaf
1 dried bird’s eye chili (optional)
Place all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed saucepan (with lid) and bring to a boil.
As soon as the mixture begins to boil, remove from the heat with lid still on and set aside.
After 20 minutes, remove lid and allow mixture to cool.
Once cooled, place the root vegetables and brining liquid into a container and store in the fridge until needed. (At least 2 hours of refrigeration is needed to allow brine to take affect.)
For the fish:
1 cup sake
1/2 cup Soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
1/4 cup honey
5 sprigs lemon thyme (leaves only)
1/4 stick butter (for cooking; substitute with oil to make dairy and gluten free)
10 10 oz. Mahi filets
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
Set a heavy-bottomed saucepan on high and pour in the sake.
When the sake begins to bubble, carefully ignite with a blowtorch.
Turn the stovetop heat to medium and allow the sake to flame on for 30 seconds to cook off the alcohol. Use the lid to extinguish flame.
Add next six ingredients and simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. As soon as the liquid takes on an almost syrupy consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
When teriyaki mixture has cooled and vegetables have had at least 2 hours pickling time, set a frying pan on med-high heat.
Lay out the mahi-mahi filets on a baking sheet. With a pastry brush, brush a little of the teriyaki onto each filet, enough to just cover the filet. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt a little piece of butter in the pan and add 2-4 pieces of fish (depending on pan size), teriyaki-glazed side down. While the glazed side is cooking, lightly brush some teriyaki to the other sides.
Cook the fish for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until a little char begins on the surface. Repeat with all the filets. Remove from heat.
Liberally glaze the already-seared filets with teriyaki, completely covering each filet. Place them in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until the flesh is firm and breaks away without much resistance.
Pour the remaining teriyaki into a small saucepan and place on stove at a low heat.
Pictured is my version, served with sautéed purple cabbage and a simple julienned vegetable salad. You can use white rice, mashed potatoes or even udon noodles as the base. The possibilities are endless. (As always, I am just giving you the tools to branch off and create, if so desired.)
Pull the filets from the oven and place atop the base starch or vegetable.
Brush the filet with some warmed teriyaki sauce.
Add the pickled vegetable (cold or room temperature, pull them straight from the brine being sure to discard any peppercorns or ginger pieces that may be stuck on) on top of the filet, trailing onto the plate for visual effect.
Add your desired side (I used a simply dressed mixed vegetable salad), then drizzle on some more teriyaki sauce to finish off your plate.
Mark Godbeer, a culinary-trained chef from South Africa, has been professionally cooking for more than 11 years, 9 of which have been on yachts (chefmarkgodbeer.com). Comments on this recipe are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org