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Misoyaki Butterfish

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Misoyaki Butterfish is a classic Hawaii dish. Impressive, delicious, and easy to make. Just marinate butterfish (black cod) overnight in a miso marinade, then bake in the oven and eat with rice ^_^

Misoyaki Butterfish
Misoyaki Butterfish

What Is Misoyaki Butterfish?

Misoyaki Butterfish is one of my all-time favorite local Hawaii dishes. It's made from black cod marinated in white miso, sake, mirin, and sugar. Marinate for 1-3 days, and then bake it in the oven!

It's one of those dishes that look fancy and impressive but is easy to make.

Misoyaki Butterfish also goes by other names:

  • Miso Butterfish (most common and what we typically call it in Hawaii)
  • Hawaiian Butterfish
  • Miso Black Cod

You know Nobu's famous Miso Black Cod dish? I remember when it became a huge thing in the 90s and everyone on the mainland was crazy about it. Over here in Hawaii, we were thinking that was quite strange because we've been eating this same dish for many years already! Only we call it Miso Butterfish ^_^

1 pound black cod fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 pound black cod fillet, cut into 4 pieces. After 24 hours marinating.

What Is Butterfish

Here is the confusing part.

Misoyaki Butterfish is not made with an actual butterfish. The word butterfish references the super silky and buttery taste of the fish.

Misoyaki Butterfish is made with black cod! Black cod is the common name for Sablefish (Gindara in Japanese). And now, thanks to Hawaii and the popularity of this dish, butterfish is also another name for black cod.

If you go to any Hawaii supermarket and ask for butterfish, they will know exactly what you're asking for. If you go to a supermarket on the mainland and ask for butterfish, they will be very confused. When in doubt, ask for black cod.

Black cod is one of my favorite types of fish. It's a white fish that's high in fat (lots of omega-3!) and very rich and silky in texture. Black cod is also popular among people who claim to not like fish because it's less "fishy tasting" than other types of fish like tuna or salmon. Another bonus: because of the high fat content, it's slightly more forgiving when it comes to cooking. You don't need to be as worried about overcooking black cod.

Misoyaki Butterfish over rice
Misoyaki Butterfish over rice

The Marinade

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This dish has two components: the fish and the marinade.

Because of that, the marinade is extra important! Luckily it only calls for four ingredients that are already in the kitchen pantry of many local homes:

To make the marinade, just combine mirin, sake, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil (stir to dissolve the sugar). Turn the heat to low and add the white miso.

Use a whisk to help break up the miso so that you get a beautiful, smooth marinade. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the marinade is a light caramel color.

Then remove from heat and set aside to cool completely before using.

Miso Butterfish at Roy's
Miso Butterfish at Roy's Hawaii Kai

What Else Can You "Misoyaki"

Black cod is the "classic" fish to use for this recipe, but you can use this marinade with many other types of fish. Just make sure to use a fatty fish like:

  • Salmon
  • Seabass

You can even use this marinade for chicken! I like to make it with chicken thighs.

Misoyaki Butterfish at Costco Hawaii
Misoyaki Butterfish at Costco Hawaii

Misoyaki Butterfish in Hawaii

Miso butterfish is so common in Hawaii...you can even buy it at Costco Hawaii!

Costco sells the fish already marinated. All you have to do is remove the marinated fillets from the package and bake it in the oven.

Miso Butterfish from Yanagi Sushi (Oahu)
Miso Butterfish from Yanagi Sushi (Oahu)

Nearly all Japanese (and many local) restaurants in Hawaii offer miso butterfish on the menu. Takeout spots include it in a bento. Fancy restaurants offer miso butterfish a la carte. Casual restaurants often feature it as part of a dinner set.

Everyone (even people who claim they don't like fish ;), loves miso butterfish.

Misoyaki Butterfish
Misoyaki Butterfish, eat with rice

Tips

Don't want to use the broiler?

The recipe calls for baking at 450F and then putting it in the broiler for the last few minutes. If you want to skip broiling, you can just bake it at 450F the entire time...it won't get that beautiful caramelize top (along with the deep color), but will still be very onolicious.

Pat the fish completely dry before marinating.

Don't just wash the fish with water. Wash and then make sure to pat it completely dry. Because the fish can be marinated up to three days, both the marinade and fish go bad if there is still water clinging onto the fish.

Can I make this in the toaster oven?

Yes!! I often make "miso butterfish for one" and just do it in the toaster often. Use the same 450F and the broil instructions. Easy and very little clean up.

Remove the marinade off the fish before cooking

This is a miso-based marinade. Miso burns easily. Because we cook the fish at a high temperature, you want to remove excess marinade off the fish before cooking. Do not wash off the marinade, just use your hands to remove the marinade.

Misoyaki Butterfish Recipe

This is our favorite recipe for butterfish and one that has been passed around between many family and friends! See below and enjoy ^_^

Misoyaki Butterfish

Misoyaki Butterfish

Yield: Lunch for 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 20 minutes

Misoyaki Butterfish is a classic Hawaii recipe (you can even buy it at Costco Hawaii!) It's call butterfish, because the texture is rich and buttery. Just marinate black cod fillets in this miso marinade, then cook in the oven.

Ingredients

Instructions

    1. Make the marinade. Combine mirin, sake, and sugar in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat to low.
    2. Add the white miso. Simmer and whisk for 5-10 minutes until the marinade is smooth and caramel in color. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
    3. Wash and pat dry the black cod fillets (make sure it is completely dry). Place all four filets into a large Ziploc bag. Pour the cooled marinade over the fish. Seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-3 days.
    4. When you’re ready to eat, wipe (do not rinse) excess marinade from the fish. Cook in the oven at 450F for 5-8 minutes. Then broil for 1-2 minutes, until the top is deeply caramelized and golden.
    5. Eat with rice! Enjoy ^_^
Dry Mein, ready to eat! With the broth in the back ^_^
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