This recipe elicited wolf-like howls of pleasure even before we started eating it, while our first bite witnessed our entire apartment shake with the giddiness that shot in waves from the hot, happy centers of our stomachs. Not only did this dish take a mere 15 minutes to prepare, but the flavors were intensely light yet screamingly delicious. Imagine a combination of ginger, cilantro, green onions, steamed yellowtail, and a citrusy yuzu ponzu sauce exploding all over your taste buds. Then imagine yourself not even wanting to chew your food, but to let it sit in your mouth as you savor its flavors. And then, finally, imagine looking dolefully down at your plate, mourning the fact that there’s only so much left to eat and nothing more.
It’s that good. We weren’t prepared for it to be that good.
The following recipe -- Hawaiian Style Steamed Kona Kampachi® (with my substitutions) -- was created by a private chef on Oahu named Stephen Butler and posted online here: http://www.kona-blue.com/download/KonaKampachi_Obama_Recipe2.pdf.
You can also check out this useful video of Chef Butler preparing the dish on YouTube.
Chef Butler apparently made this dish for the Obama family when they were vacationing in Hawaii.
What follows is my own adaptation of the ingredients list as well as the cooking directions. I made the changes because neither Kona Kampachi® nor macadamia nut oil were available at any of the six stores I visited near my home. Instead of using kampachi, which is expensive even when one can find it, I used a combination of hamachi (relatively expensive, too) and mongchong (about half the price of hamachi). And I halved the portions since he was cooking for four and I was cooking for two.
3/4 lbs hamachi (yellowtail) combined with 3/4 lbs mongchong (yellow snapper)
3 Tbsp (I like lots of ginger) fresh ginger, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
6 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp chile oil
6 Tbsp ponzu sauce (try yuzu ponzu, if you can find it)
1) If using a whole fish, filet it, remove its skin, and de-bone it lengthwise. If using filets, slice each in half lengthwise. Each filet should be sliced in two. Slice into thin sashimi-like pieces and arrange on plates for steaming.
2) Drizzle raw fish pieces with chile oil (or sesame oil, if you must).
3) Cover each plate with plastic wrap and steam for up to five minutes (until the pink flesh of the fish has turned white). Remove plastic wrap when fish is cooked.
4) Sprinkle green onions, cilantro and ginger over fish.
5) In a pan, heat the peanut oil until just before it begins to smoke. Pour an equal amount of hot oil over each plate. I used 4 plates, which meant pouring 1.5 Tbsp of hot peanut oil on each. (Listen to the fish crackle beneath the heat of the oil!)
6) Drizzle ponzu sauce around perimeter of the plates. Serve immediately.