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  • on July 18, 2019
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I’m strong because I know my weaknesses. I’m wise because I’ve been foolish. I laugh because I’ve known sadness.

Things you learn when you move away from Hawai‘i: Butterfish is not a type of fish. It refers to a style of preparation, not an actual fish. What’s more confusing is that the type of fish typically used in butterfish dishes is often called black cod, but that fish is actually a North Pacific sablefish! Learn from my mistakes and ask your local fishmonger for North Pacific sablefish fillets when preparing this dish. And plan ahead. While most local grocery stores sell marinated butterfish fillets, it takes 2 to 3 days to marinate your own at home.


  • ¾ cup white miso paste
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup sake
  • 1 cup mirin
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (shoyu)
  • One ½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • Four 4-ounce North Pacific sablefish fillets
  • 2 cups steamed rice, for serving
  • Furikake , for serving
  • Blanched baby bok choy, for serving


In a small saucepan, whisk together the miso paste, brown sugar, sake, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Turn the heat to low and simmer until the mixture has thickened and reduced by a quarter or so, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool completely.
Place the fillets in a gallon-size ziplock bag and pour the cooled sauce over them. Seal and transfer the bag to the fridge to marinate for 2 to 3 days, turning the bag every 24 hours.
Remove the bag from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the broiler and raise your oven rack to the top spot; it should be 6 to 8 inches from the coils. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, dull side up.
Wipe off any excess sauce from the top of the fillets and arrange them, skin side down, on the foil-lined baking sheet. Broil until the fish flesh is almost opaque, 8 to 10 minutes. Broil for a minute or two to caramelize the top of the fish; it’s done when the outer edges start to blacken. Serve with steamed rice, furikake, and baby bok choy.

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