Blue Water Cafe’s Sable Fish Recipe

From Vancouver’s Blue Water Cafe, renowned for its local and sustainable seafood, this sweet and flaky white fish is served over blanched green beans. As he explains in his Blue Water Cafe Seafood Cookbook, executive chef Frank Pabst tops this protein-packed dish with a tangy orange-tamarind sauce. Tamarind is a tart fruit that is used in chutneys and pickles. This recipe also calls for mirin, a sweet cooking wine. Both these ingredients are available at Asian food stores.

Soy-Sake Marinade
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp mirin

Orange-Tamarind Sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small carrot, sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 jalapeño pepper, sliced
1” piece of ginger, sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup concentrated orange juice
2 tbsp tamarind paste
4 cups chicken stock
8 kumquats, sliced and seeded
Zest of 1/4 orange, julienned, for garnish

Caramelized Sable Fish
4 sable fish fillets, 6 oz. each, skin on
1-1/2 cups soy-sake marinade
10 oz. green beans
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups canola oil, for deep-frying
4 tbsp flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 shallots, thinly sliced on a mandolin


Soy-Sake Marinade

Step 1: In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil on high heat.

Step 2: Reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer until sugar is dissolved and alcohol has evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Step 3: Remove from the heat, allow the mixture to cool, then refrigerate until well chilled.

Orange-Tamarind Sauce

Step 1: In a large saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat.

Step 2: Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, jalapeño and ginger and sweat for 5-10 minutes until fragrant.

Step 3: Add mustard seeds, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, vinegar, orange juice, tamarind paste and chicken stock and cook until liquid has reduced by two-thirds, 20-30 minutes.

Step 4: Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl, then season with salt and pepper.

Step 5: Add kumquats. Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Caramelized Sable Fish

Step 1: Combine sable fish and Soy-Sake Marinade in a resealable plastic zip-top bag and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2: Heat a medium pot of salted water to a boil.

Step 3: Add beans and blanch for 2-3 minutes.

Step 4: Transfer the beans to a bowl and toss in butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 5: Heat canola oil in a deep fryer or a deep pot to 300°F.

Step 6: Mix flour and cayenne in a bowl.

Step 7: Toss shallot slices in this seasoned flour to dredge, then fry them in the oil until golden and crisp, about 30 seconds.

Step 8: Remove the shallot slices from the oil and allow to drain on paper towels.

Step 9: Remove the sable fish fillets from the refrigerator and allow them to warm to room temperature.

Step 10: Turn the broiler on. Transfer the sable fish, skin-side down, to a cast-iron pan and place it on the lowest rack under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until deeply caramelized. (The cooking time will depend upon the thickness of the fillets.)

Step 11: To serve, arrange a quarter of the green beans in the centre of each of 4 plates. Using a metal spatula, lift each fillet from its skin and place the fish on the beans. Sprinkle each dish with a quarter of the fried shallots and finish with a quarter of the Orange-Tamarind Sauce and some orange zest.

Reprinted with permission from Blue Water Cafe Seafood Cookbook by Frank Pabst (2009 Douglas & McIntyre).