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What’s cooking today: Miso Yellowtail



What’s cooking today: Miso Yellowtail

Tony Jackman’s miso yellowtail with mushrooms, Chinese cabbage and rice noodles. Served on a heavy dinner plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Fresh fish is a rare treat in the Karoo. So when a friend phones from the little harbour fish shop in Gqeberha to say there’s fresh yellowtail and would you like some, you schedule fish for supper.

Yellowtail is one of my favourite species of fish because it has a pleasing texture and can take flavour. The same friend is part of the family that owns our biggest local supermarket, and they had fresh Chinese cabbage and brown mushrooms in. With those and a bunch of spring onions in the shopping basket, it was time to hit my Asian ingredients.

I wasn’t really trying to emulate Nobu Matsuhisa’s famous Black cod den miso, which I have had a stab at before in my own way. Rather than let the black miso paste dominate (the black version is very strong), I leavened it with sesame oil, ponzu (soy flavoured with yuzu, a variety of citrus), lime juice, fish sauce, sweet soy and garlic. If you don’t have ponzu, you could add a little orange zest instead.


For the fish:

2 x 500 g yellowtail cutlets

2 Tbsp grapeseed or peanut oil

1 tsp sesame oil



1 Tbsp miso paste

1 Tbsp ponzu

1 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp sweet soy sauce

1 tsp crushed dried garlic


For the noodles and vegetables:

100 g rice stick noodles, drained

2 brown mushrooms, sliced

6 Chinese cabbage leaves, sliced thinly lengthwise

1 bunch spring onions, sliced on the diagonal

½ a red pimento pepper, cut into julienne strips lengthwise

½ a yellow pimento pepper, cut into julienne strips lengthwise

2 Tbsp cooking oil

Soy sauce

Lime juice



Pour boiling water over the noodles and leave them to steep for 15 minutes or more. Drain and set aside.

Toss the shredded cabbage in heated oil in a wok for a minute. Remove and keep to one side.

Mix the baste ingredients together and baste the yellowtail cutlets with it on all sides including the skin. Reserve the remainder for basting while frying. Marinate the fish for 3 or 4 hours. Pat the skin side dry before frying.

For the mushrooms, heat oil in a wok and stir-fry quickly until tender but not too soft, with a splash of soy sauce and lime juice.

In the wok, add more oil and quickly stir-fry the spring onions. Add them to the mushrooms on the side.

Fry the peppers in the wok, adding ponzu and sweet soy, and remove to the side dish.

Heat peanut or grapeseed oil (or canola but not olive) in a frying pan and fry the yellowtail fillets skin-side down on a moderate heat until cooked halfway through. If they’re very thick, as my cutlets were, this may take a fair while. Don’t be tempted to move the fish until a slim spatula slipped underneath at one end slides under easily. Turn carefully (with a spatula or fish slice) and cook on the flesh side. Try not to take them too far: fish is best if very slightly undercooked in the middle. Which doesn’t mean raw.

To serve:

Add a splash each of ponzu, soy sauce and lime juice to the wok, then toss the noodles in it and serve.

Throw in the vegetables you’ve kept to one side, toss and serve. DM/TGIFood 

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected] 

SUBSCRIBE: Our Thank God It’s Food newsletter is sent to subscribers every Friday at 6pm, and published on the TGIFood platform on Daily Maverick. It’s all about great reads on the themes of food and life. Subscribe here.

Handmade dinnerware for this shoot supplied by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. Visit Mervyn, 4A Dorsetshire Street, Paarden Eiland or call 021 510 2385. Follow Mervyn Gers Ceramics on Facebook or Instagram Mervyn_Gers_Ceramics.


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