Kona Kampachi Two Ways

I literally got to SM Seafood last night three minutes before closing. Rushing around as usual. Tick-tock… The pressure was on… I put on my dinner thinking cap. I didn't want to be "that person". You know what I'm talking about, don't you? I use to work in retail and there was nothing worse than having a customer come in near closing, mess up your store, make you stay late and then not buy anything in the end. Arg! I definitely didn't want to be that person, so I ran in and quickly surveyed the wide range of seafood on display. They always have great cuts of fish there, so I knew my decision would be easy. "Hmm," I thought, "Scallops?" As I made my way down to the shell fish, something caught my eye.  As soon as I laid my eyes on the beautiful filets of sashimi grade Kona Kampachi, the light bulb switched on. I had one of those "ah hah" moments where it all comes together. I scooped up a pound of the kampachi and was out the door before 7. Close call. Yeah for not being an a**hole! :)

Nothing would compliment the fresh fish as well as fresh herbs and produce. I decided to prepare it two different ways. I would do a sashimi and a seared version to contrast and compliment the flavors of the fish. For the seared version of the kampachi, I prepared an Italian-style salsa verde (no tomatillos here) with parsley, capers, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and EVOO. After a quick salt and peppering, I seared up the filet pieces for just about a minute on each side. Still nice and rare in the middle, just the way I like it. Sliced the seared pieces of kampachi to about 1/4" thickness and topped it with the salsa and diced red and green zebra heirloom tomatoes.

For the second version, I served it up shashimi-style with a citrus soy dressing and thinly sliced kumquats. For the dressing, I whisked together soy sauce, minced ginger, kumquat juice (yes, I had to use the mortar and pestle for this one), lime juice, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. The kumquats really make the dressing special by giving it a tanginess that leaves your mouth feeling very refreshed. I sliced up the kampachi as thinly as I could, spooned on the vinaigarette and topped it with thinly sliced kumquats and scallions.

Both pretty and tasty. The warm seared kampachi had a slight crust and buttery rare middle. The lemon juice and capers from the salsa verde lent the perfect amount of acid to cut though the richness of the fish, while the parsley and tomatoes heighten the sweet flavor of the fish without being overpowering. I actually preferred the kumquat version, though I am admittedly biased. I adore kumquats. Growing up, we had two kumquat trees in our back yard and eating kumquats for me is very nostalgic… like the evil food critic in Ratatouille when he gets the ratatouille. Warm fuzzy memories. The sweet peel contrasting with the tart pulp balanced the richness of the sashimi perfectly. This made for a no-fuss Wednesday dinner. The only thing we were missing was Kona Kampachi a third way!?!  :)

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