Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Black Cod with sweet miso marinade

One of my best friends from high school was in town a couple of weeks ago, and she took me to dinner at Nobu on a reservation that was arranged through her sick connections.  Wow.  Those people know how to make food happen, lemme tell you.  We went for the omakase meal, letting the chef decide what to serve us - every single bite was flavorful and unique - not a single wasted bite!

One of their signature dishes is black cod in a miso marinade - now let me be clear, there is NO way I think for a SECOND that I can possible duplicate the dish exactly.  However it did remind me of a version my mom used to make - that I can replicate with some changes owning to the fact that I don't have the sense to ask her how she did it.

I have to admit, I could eat this every day, and really I haven't managed to get it to turn out exactly the way I want to just yet.  I've tried stove top in a cast iron pan, and more recently I tried it in my Foreman Grill which demonstrated to me that I need to replace it as it's now the antithesis of non stick.  Ideally I think this dish needs a toaster oven to come out the way I want it to.  Guess I'll just have to make it again.  Darn.

But for now, here are the basics, remember it takes a couple of days to marinate the fish completely, though you could probably cheat it if you use a little extra sauce when you cook it.  My version is probably a little less sweet than others because I'm trying to minimize carbs so I don't use additional sugar.  You can add a table spoon or two (depending on volume of marinade) if you prefer sweeter flavor.

Stuff you'll need;

  • Black cod filets - skin on
  • Shiro miso (white miso) - about 1/4 cup
  • Mirin - 4 tbsp give or take
  • Dashi broth (water will actually do here, I use dashi because I always have a ton on hand.) have a cup or so on hand, this is what you'll use to liquefy the marinade
Get yourself a ziplock bag, close to the size of the filets with a little space to spare - the idea is to maximize the contact between the fish and the marinade mix.  Drop the miso paste, and mirin in the bag, and seal it - massage it a bit till the miso breaks up and the mirin is incorporated.  Add the dashi stock little by little (or water) enough to make a viscose marinade.  Add the cod to the bag push out as much extra air as you can and seal.

Now let it sit.  For at least 3 days.

When you're ready to cook pull the cod out of the bag, you might notice some color change, it's fine, that's just the marinade permeating the fillet.

Looks good already doesn't it!  Now, to the cooking.  Here's where I'm still stumbling a bit - I like the skin, specifically, I like the skin to get crunchy and charred a bit - it's salty deliciousness that can't be beat.  If the fish is properly scaled, and cooked well, the skin is often the best part!

However I haven't quite figured out how to cook the fish without the skin sticking to the pan and coming off the fish - could have to do with my aversion to non stick pans, or the fact that my overused Foreman Grill's non stick properties are no longer a viable feature.  C'est la vie, it's still delicious and I have no shame in scraping the charred skin off the surface of the dish, however to serve to company, I'd prefer it to look better so in an ideal world, I'd recommend using a toaster oven for this dish.

Toaster oven directions:
Set toaster oven on broil, line your cooking pan with foil for easy clean up after cooking.
Pop the fish in the toaster oven and let it broil for about 6 to 8 min - a little longer if the fillet is particularly thick.  Let the skin char a bit, it's sooo good that way!

Stove top directions:
Add a little bit of flavor neutral oil (I used canola) to a pre warmed pan on medium/ medium high heat.  Place the fish in the pan skin side down first, for about 2 min, then flip over and allow it to cook through, about 7 minutes a little longer for a thicker fillet.  (note, this method sometimes results in the skin coming off or not enough charring of the skin but it still tastes delicious!)

Which ever route you take, this dish with it's salty miso flavor goes well with green vegetables - broccoli rabe for example, or asparagus, or blanched spinach.   Also, while I'm trying to not eat carbs, this would be fabulous with a robust sticky rice, like Japanese style sticky rice mixed with barley and millet (just throw it all in the rice cooker at once).


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