In a previous post, I talked about the Almaco Jack or Longfin Yellowtail coming out of the Gulf, which shocked me with its resemblance to farm-raised Yellowtail-Hamachi and Almaco -Kona Kampachi coming out of the Pacific. Now that you’ve had the history lesson, let’s get to the eating part. Different proteins call for different applications, some are versatile while others aren’t. The Almaco Jack, although very good in hot applications, shines tremendously on the cold/raw side.
At Reef, we love experimenting with contrasts in texture in relation to how the fish structure changes under certain applications. For this dish, we used somewhat of a “short” cure to alter the outer flesh while still retaining the integrity and silkiness of the inner part of the filet.
The cure consists of a ratio of 3 to 1 sugar to salt (which many would consider high on the sweet side for a cure). For the sweet end of the deal, we use palm sugar and agave nectar; on the salt side, sea salt and Kanzuri Paste. Kanzuri paste is a very interesting product -- it’s a fermented chili paste from the mountains of Japan where the peppers have been exposed to the snow (kind of a frost bit deal), mixed with salt and malt, then fermented for around three years. It has a deep, complex, salty heat. Together with the sweet and the salt, we mix crushed jalapenos, shallots, mint and lime zest. The fish then sets to cure for around three to four hours depending on the thickness of the filet.
To plate the dish: we place sliced cucumbers between the pieces of cured fish, add cucumber water and some pureed cure marinade (fresh, not used!) and there you have it!