Two dishes that I see copied on a lot of menus here in Southwest Florida are Bang Bang Shrimp and Misoyaki Butterfish – at least those are their original names. You will find variations of these two dishes on menus everywhere with slightly different names. The originals proved so popular because they were unique and delicious, and each was the result of an ingredient new to American palates. The ingredients and preparations have subsequently been copied and modified by chefs all over the country. And if you’re a home cook, you can find lots of copycat recipes online.
Bang Bang Shrimp originated right here in Florida at the Bonefish Grill. It is a very lightly battered and crispy shrimp tossed in a creamy hot and sweet sauce that is probably sriracha sauce, a spicy/sweet chili sauce from Thailand. (I say probably because Bonefish will not reveal the actual recipe.) Tim Curci and Chris Parker started Bonefish Grill in
St. Petersburg, Florida just 13 years ago and in 2003 were bought by the Outback Steakhouse company. Bang Bang Shrimp is their biggest seller. The dish has become so popular Bonefish has even trademarked the name. When you see it on other menus today it is sometimes called Bang Shrimp. Two bangs are a no-no but one bang is still okay I guess. A similar preparation is now often used with calamari. Sriracha sauce has now become a standard ingredient in professional kitchens.
Misoyaki Butterfish was popularized by Roy Yamaguchi, founder of Roy’s Restaurants. Japanese-born Roy pioneered Hawaiian Fusion, a sweet and spicy style of cooking with an Asian twist that used miso — a traditional ingredient in Japanese cooking. Marinating fish in miso (a fermented soybean paste) mixed with a sweetening agent gives it a sweet, earthy flavor with an umami taste that is best described as mouth-watering. On its own miso tastes like salty peanut butter so it is usually mixed with other things. There actually is a fish called butterfish that is also known as escolar or even sablefish but it has very limited usage (mostly in Hawaii) because the oils in the fish can cause gastric distress. Misoyaki literally means grilled miso in Japanese and today restaurants use it on everything from seafood to chicken to beef dishes. Interestingly, in 1997 Roy’s was also bought by Outback Steakhouse Inc. which just last year changed it’s name to Bloomin’ Brands. Other restaurants in the Bloomin’ Brands family are Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse.