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Grilled Miso-Marinated Sea Bass with Turmeric Rice

September 23, 2011

As I unpacked from our quick island getaway, stowaway grains of Maui sand trickled out of my suitcase…welcome souvenirs of a much-needed escape from the busy summer we’ve had.  Waking up each morning to the sound of waves crashing on the rocks outside our room and seeing nothing but blue water for miles and miles made it easy to fall into a routine of leisure.  The morning runs/swim, lounging on the beach during the day and cocktails at sunset seem like a faraway dream now but the sounds and sights remain fond memories.

One of the treats of this vacation was all the fresh fish.  Normally I avoid ordering fish since I’m too often disappointed by their preparation. Either bland and dry or the other extreme,swimming in so much butter that the essence of the fish is lost–can you tell I’m a bit picky with my fish?

On this last trip, however, I particularly enjoyed the ono (wahoo), a flaky, delicate fish most commonly found in Hawaiian waters and Tahiti.  It was my fish of choice whenever I found it as a menu offering.  I enjoyed my ono poached, grilled, steamed and curried and I savored every bite.  When I returned home, I was anxious to recreate the flavors of my vacation.

One of my favorite vendors happened to have fresh sea bass fillets, a decent substitute for the ono, I thought. I prepared an easy marinade with miso paste and grilled the fish.  Served with steamed rice flavored with turmeric and dotted with soy beans, corn and bell peppers (bagged, frozen from Trader Joe’s), I was transported back to Hawaii, even if it lasted only as long as dinner.

Note:  In my excitement to find sea bass, I failed to check if it was in the “avoid” section of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list (MBA).  Unfortunately, Chilean Sea Bass is not a recommended choice for seafood at this time.  According to MBA, only certain Chilean sea bass fisheries are certified as sustainable to the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).  More digging showed that many vendors and eateries will claim that their sea bass has been sustainably sourced when it hasn’t; only a small percentage of sea bass in the market bears MSC approval.  I purchased my fish from a trusted gourmet shop but I will admit that I still don’t know the provenance of the particular fish I bought. I’m trying to be a responsible consumer but I may have erred here.  I’m sharing this post anyway so you don’t make the same mistake I made.  Feel free to use a different fish here if you like.  The marinade should work just as well.  

Grilled Miso-Marinated Sea Bass with Turmeric Rice

  • One large fillet of fish, your choice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp miso paste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
  • 3 tablespoons oil
For the turmeric rice
  • long-grain rice
  • chicken stock (or use vegetable stock as a vegetarian option)
  • water
  • turmeric powder
  • mixed frozen vegetables
To prepare the fish, combine all the ingredients above from the miso paste to the oil and marinate the fish for at least a couple of hours.  Grill on both sides according to your preferred doneness.
For the rice, prepare as you normally would on the stovetop.  I used half water and half stock for the liquid and about 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder.  Add as much vegetables as you like.  As a variation, toast the uncooked rice in a bit of oil and stir in the turmeric powder.  When the turmeric is fragrant, add the liquid and the veggies, bring to a boil then simmer until the rice is cooked.
15 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2011 3:24 PM

    I’m also super picky about fish but this looks amazing! I love miso anything.

  2. September 23, 2011 5:54 PM

    What a delicious treat! Love Miso on Fish! Your vacation sounded so idyllic! I love Hawaii so much! Thanks for the info on sea bass. Good to know. Thanks for sharing, Jean and welcome back!

  3. September 24, 2011 12:32 AM

    That is a nice looking fish and turmeric added a nice yellow color to the rice. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  4. amelia from z tasty life permalink
    September 24, 2011 12:51 AM

    Your trip, summer and fish all sound wonderful! Thanks for raising awareness on fish sourcing…such a grey area, still…

  5. September 24, 2011 6:48 AM

    I’m glad to hear you had such a lovely trip…and decided to share this inspired fish recipe. It looks too good! Thank you for sharing with me. I’m sitting down to a leisurely breakfast, and, as always, your blog is wonderful reading material. I hope you have a happy weekend, my friend!

  6. September 24, 2011 8:19 AM

    Welcome home Jean!
    I think this is a delicious marinade and would work well on all kinds of fish. Your photos are lovely, the fish looks perfectly grilled and the rice is such a beautiful color. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend;-)

  7. Liren permalink
    September 25, 2011 8:02 AM

    Welcome home, Jean! When we were in Maui, we couldn’t get enough of the wonderful fish, too, and Ono is a favorite indeed. I must try this marinade soon! This makes me miss vacation!

  8. September 29, 2011 11:02 PM

    Beautiful recipe, as always! I have an award for you, I hope you’ll accept it 🙂

  9. October 1, 2011 5:32 PM

    My mom’s family is from Hawaii and I was lucky enough to live with my grandmother on Kauai for one school year. The fish there is the best! I try to buy only sustainable fish and Chilean Sea Bass is definitely an endangered species – but this looks like Pacific Sea Bass to me…. But if you were buying from a trusted source, I’m sure they wouldn’t mislead you. Either way, it sounds/looks delicious with a miso marinade and turmeric rice.

    • October 2, 2011 5:52 PM

      Hi, Priscilla! I have just been informed (by Greg at Sippity Sup) that this might have been a “good” seabass so I’m happy. Glad you concur.

      Kauai is my favorite of the Hawaiian Islands. Lucky you to have been able to live there for an entire year! Hope all is well!

  10. October 1, 2011 5:34 PM

    Actually, it looks like swordfish, but… your source knows best 🙂 I want to go to Hawaii – it’s been so long!

  11. October 1, 2011 6:51 PM

    You know. Not all Sea Bass is an “avoid”. We Californians are lucky to have the White California Sea Bass as a sustainable local choice. There is a very good chance that is exactly what you got. GREG

    • October 2, 2011 5:49 PM

      Greg, I’m relieved to know that my seabass may not have been on the “avoid” list. I have so much to learn still! 🙂

  12. October 3, 2011 9:40 PM

    I am sure this recipe would work well on any firm fleshed white fish. I Love miso flavored marinades. Very nice.

  13. October 7, 2011 10:19 AM

    I’m a picky fish eater too and all the time have a hear of buying/ordering fish.
    Yours looks very tempting, and the yellow rice, my hubby’s favorite!

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