Sablefish, also known as black cod, is a buttery, wonderful fish that's also sustainably managed. The lucky kayakers on trips led by Sealegs Kayaking Adventures, based on Vancouver Island, B.C., feast on this dish after a day of paddling. This recipe was developed by Sealegs' culinary partner, Edible Canada, using sake kasu (solids with a cheese-like texture left over from making sake) and birch syrup, reduced from the sap of birch trees. White miso and real maple syrup are decent substitutes for these. Make the vegetables at the last minute so they keep their bright colors.
7 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
7 tablespoons birch syrup* or maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 fresh or dried Thai chile, minced
1-in. piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 smashed, peeled garlic cloves, plus 2 minced garlic cloves
2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 tsp. leaves
2 tablespoons sake kasu* (sake lees) or white miso
4 skinned sablefish fillets (each about 6 oz. and 3/4 in. thick)
5 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1 cup shelled fresh peas
1/2 bunch rainbow Swiss chard, leaves stripped from ribs and torn into pieces; ribs and stems diced
How to Make It
Marinate fish before leaving home: In a small pot, combine tamari, birch syrup, chile, ginger, smashed garlic, 2 sprigs thyme, the sake kasu or miso, and 2/3 cup water (1/3 cup if using miso). Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes (or, for miso, just bring to a simmer, then remove from heat without further cooking). Let cool. Pour into a 1-gal. resealable plastic bag. Add fish, seal, and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours. Pack in a cooler for the trip.
Thaw bagged fish in a bowl of cold water a few hours before cooking (or let thaw in cooler overnight). Remove from marinade and pat dry. Heat a charcoal grill to medium-high (450°) or set up a camp stove and use medium-high heat.
Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a large heavy frying pan or 2 smaller pans. Add fish and sauté, turning once, until crisp-edged and opaque in center, 10 to 15 minutes. Set pan aside, covered and wrapped in a towel to keep warm. If using charcoal, add 10 to 12 briquets to fire.
Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan, add onion and thyme leaves, and cook, stirring often, until onion starts to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic, 1/4 cup water, the peas, and chard ribs and stems and cook, covered and stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in chard leaves; cook, covered, until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Stir remaining 1 tbsp. butter into vegetables and serve with fish.
*Order birch syrup through Kahiltna Birchworks (alaskabirchsyrup.com). Find sake kasu at Japanese markets.
Edible Canada, Vancouver, B.C.
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