Seared Whitefish with Ponzu SauceJump to Recipe
Fresh whitefish that’s seared until crispy with a generous drizzle of homemade ponzu sauce. This Seared Fish with Ponzu Sauce recipe is best enjoyed during the spring when fish is fresh and citrus fruits are in season.
What is Ponzu?
The star of the show in this recipe is, of course, the ponzu sauce. But what is it?
Ponzu is a citrus-based sauce from Japan. It is made by simmering mirin, rice vinegar, katsuobushi (dried fish flakes) and kombu (dried kelp). Its well-known citrus taste is added afterwards using a mixture of fruit juices. The most common citrus juices used to make the sauce is either lemon or yuzu, which are very similar to each other. Other citrus fruits like orange or grapefruit can also be used. The final product is a thin, tangy and colourless sauce.
The version of the sauce we usually see in grocery stores and at restaurants is actually a dark brown colour though. To get this dark colour, soy sauce is added. The result is a new savoury but still tangy sauce.
Using Ponzu Sauce In Other Recipes
Ponzu sauce isn’t limited to only Japanese dishes, although it does add a touch of Japan to any dish.
It goes extremely well with most types of seafood. The sweet but still acidic flavour of citrus balances out the briny and fishy taste that might be overwhelming for some people. You can use it with almost any kind of fish, not just whitefish. Cod and tilapia are the most common types of whitefish to use but salmon is a great alternative if you don’t want to use whitefish.
Many salads can also use a touch of citrus. You can turn your ponzu sauce into a delicious vinaigrette which goes particularly well with salads of heaty greens. It is also commonly used as a dipping sauce in shabu shabu, a type of Japanese hotpot.
Don’t be scared to experiment too. Using it as a marinade for flanks of beef or pork will add the perfect hint of citrus that’s perfect for the spring season.
Some quick notes before starting the recipe:
Making the ponzu sauce is optional. You can always use a store-bought bottle. Steeping the dried bonito flakes and dried kelp overnight will make the sauce taste extra delicious. The alternative if you’re rushed for time is to simmer all the ingredients in a pot, minus the citrus juice. Then add the juice once the sauce has cooled.
Feel free to substitute the fish with a different kind. Regardless seared fish with ponzu sauce pairs extremely well with a side of steamed rice and your choice of gently blanched vegetables.
Seared Whitefish with Ponzu Sauce Recipe
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup citrus juice, (3:1 ratio of lemon & orange juice)
- 2 tbsp mirin, (can be substituted with 2 tbsp water + 2 tsp sugar)
- ½ cup katsuobushi, (dried bonito flakes)
- 1 piece kombu, (dried kelp
- 4 cod steaks, 5-6 oz. each
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- ground pepper
- Sterilize an airtight sealable jar. Mason jars work great for this.
- Add all the ponzu sauce ingredients to the jar and mix well.
- Steep in the refrigerator overnight (minimum), for several days, or for up to a week. Note: Steeping the dried bonito flakes and kelp overnight will create a deeper flavour and make the sauce taste extra delicious. The longer the better.
- If you’re rushed for time, you can simmer the ingredients except for the citrus juice in a pot for 15 minutes instead. Add in the juice after it has cooled down.
- If you decided to steep everything, strain the sauce using a sieve to remove the dried bonito flakes and dried kelp.
- Prepare your whitefish steaks by gently rinsing them under cold water and patting dry with some paper towel.
- Heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Season the steaks of fish with salt and pepper before laying them on the pan.
- Sear one side of the fish steaks for 2 minutes each or until it becomes golden and crisp.
- Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the fish steaks on the other side until they are cooked through, about 11 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the steaks from the pan and plate. Drizzle a generous amount of ponzu on each steak and serve immediately. Seared whitefish with ponzu sauce is best served with a side of steamed rice and your choice of blanched vegetables.
- Excess ponzu sauce can be stored in your airtight jar in your refrigerator for up to a month. If you substituted mirin for water and sugar, use it up within a week. Enjoy!