If a Hawaiianvacation wasn’t on your radar before, get ready, because Alana Kysar’s new cookbook, Aloha Kitchen ($30) is the book that will have you dying to go. The 85 vibrant recipes are a refreshing reminder that the local food of Hawai’i is much more than pork and pineapple, and that its history is rich and complex. Think homemade saimin noodles, sweet and spicy barbecued dishes, pickled mango, dazzling salads, and fragrant steamed fish. Thankfully, there’s also an entire chapter dedicated to desserts (passion fruit chiffon pie, anyone?). These are the foods you’ll find at weekly luaus, local restaurants and grocery stores, celebrations, and home kitchens.

The book, full of all kinds of magical aloha vibes, is as warm and inviting as Hawai’i itself. Ksyar, originally from Maui, sprinkles every page with childhood memories and frequently touches on the many cultures that have influenced the cuisine. She also sets us up with plenty of practical advice, like how to stock your Hawaiian pantry and where to source ingredients. We found it practically impossible to decide which recipe to share as a teaser, but this simple ginger misoyaki butterfish sounds just about right for any occasion. Pick up a copy and brace yourself for some major wanderlust.

GINGER MISOYAKI BUTTERFISH

(Serves 4)

Things you learn when you move away from Hawai‘i: Butterfish is not a type of fish. It refers to a style of preparation, not an actual fish. What’s more confusing is that the type of fish typically used in butterfish dishes is often called black cod, but that fish is actually a North Pacific sablefish! Learn from my mistakes and ask your local fishmonger for North Pacific sablefish fillets when preparing this dish. And plan ahead. While most local grocery stores sell marinated butterfish fillets, it takes 2 to 3 days to marinate your own at home.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ⁄4 cup white miso paste
  • 3 ⁄4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup sake
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (shoyu)
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 4 (4-ounce) North Pacific sablefish fillets
  • 2 cups steamed rice, for serving
  • furikake, for serving
  • blanched baby bok choy, for serving

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the miso paste, brown sugar, sake, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Lower the heat to low and simmer until the mixture has thickened and reduced by a quarter or so, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool completely.

2. Place the fillets in a gallon-size ziplock bag and pour the cooled sauce over them. Seal and transfer the bag to the fridge to marinate for 2 to 3 days, turning the bag every 24 hours.

3. Remove the bag from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the broiler and raise your oven rack to the top spot; it should be 6 to 8 inches from the coils. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, dull side up.

5. Wipe off any excess sauce from the top of the fillets and arrange them, skin side down, on the foil-lined baking sheet. Broil until the fish flesh is almost opaque, 8 to 10 minutes. Broil for a minute or two to caramelize the top of the fish; it’s done when the outer edges start to blacken. Serve with steamed rice, furikake, and baby bok choy.

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(Recipe and photos from Aloha Kitchen by Alana Kysar, published by Ten Speed Press © 2019)