Blue Water Cafe Recipe: Sablefish Caramelized with Soy and Sake?

Sablefish, also known as block cod, is an excellent sustainable seafood that is available year-round

Credit: John Sherlock

Sablefish served on green beans


Soy-sake Marinade

  • ½ cup sake

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ cup soy sauce

  • 1 T brown sugar

  • 1 T mirin

Orange-tamarind Sauce

  • 3 T olive oil

  • 1 small carrot, sliced

  • 1 rib celery, sliced

  • ½ onion, sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced

  • ¼ jalapeño pepper, sliced

  • 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns

  • 1 sprig thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

  • ¼ cup concentrated orange juice

  • 2 T tamarind paste

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 8 kumquats, sliced and seeded

  • Zest of ¼ orange, julienned, for garnish

Carmelized Sablefish

  • 4 sablefish fillets, 6 oz each, skin on

  • 1½ cups soy-sake marinade

  • 10 oz green beans

  • 2 T unsalted butter

  • 2 cups canola oil, for deep-frying

  • 4 T flour

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced on a mandolin


Soy-sake Marinade

  1. In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil on high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer until sugar is dissolved and alcohol has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, allow the mixture to cool, then refrigerate until well chilled.

Orange-tamarind Sauce

  1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, jalapeño and ginger and sweat for 5 to 10 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add mustard seeds, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, vinegar, orange juice, tamarind paste and chicken stock and cook until liquid has reduced by two-thirds, 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl, then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add kumquats.

Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Carmelized Sablefish

  1. Combine sablefish and soy-sake marinade in a resealable plastic zip-top bag and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Heat a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Add beans and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the beans to a bowl and toss in butter.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. 

  6. Heat canola oil in deep fryer or a deep pot to 300 F.
  7. Mix flour and cayenne in a bowl. Toss shallot slices in this seasoned flour to dredge, then fry them in the oil until golden and crisp, about 30 seconds.
  8. Remove the shallot slices from the oil and allow to drain on paper towels. 

  9. Remove the sablefish fillets from the refrigerator and allow them to warm to room temperature. 

  10. Turn the broiler on. Transfer the sablefish, skin-side down, to a cast-iron pan and place it on the lowest rack under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes until deeply caramelized. (The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fillets.)

To Serve

Arrange a quarter of the green beans in the centre of each of four plates. Using a metal spatula, lift each fillet from its skin and place the fish on the beans. Sprinkle each dish with a quarter of the orange-tamarind sauce and some orange zest. 

Serves 4

From the book Blue Water Cafe: Seafood Cookbook, copyright 2009, by Frank Pabst. Photography by John Sherlock. Published by Douglas & MacIntyre, an imprint of D&M Publishers Inc. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Originally published in BC Home magazine. For monthly updates, subscribe to the free BC Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.