Miso black cod is the kind of dish that makes you wonder how those breaded things they served in the school cafeteria could possibly also be considered fish. First popularized by the Nobu chain, it is now served at Japanese restaurants around the country, usually for something like $20 per..bite. I always thought it was one of those impossible dishes one could make only after years of Zen-like study and the ability to Fed-Ex the fish straight from Tokyo. Imagine then my surprise when I stumbled across the recipe for the (alleged) Nobu version of the dish on a blog called Seduction Meals. I was skeptical at first because the recipe called for marinating the fish for two to three days. Given what I thought I knew about the importance of buying fish fresh and eating it immediately, I thought this might be a typo and halved the recipe so as not to waste money if it did not turn out. Not only did it turn out, it was the best fish I have ever cooked. (You can tell from the picture, which shows a piece of fish with several bites missing!) The combination of the flaky buttery interior and the salty-sweet exterior is uniquely delicious. The texture is reminiscent of a croissant, but lighter, of course. Given that the black cod cost around $21 a pound at Whole Foods, it was not exactly a bargain but it was certainly cheaper than eating at Nobu. I’d like to try making it with a less expensive white fish since I think the secret is the long marination which might make cheaper or pre-frozen fish taste alright. The best part? Once the fish has marinated, it is incredibly fast and easy to cook.
Nobu’s Miso Black Cod
Adapted from SeductionMeals
2 pounds black cod filet
3/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup sake
2 cups white miso paste
1 cup sugar
Combine mirin and sake in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 20 seconds. Add miso paste and stir until paste dissolves. Raise heat to high and add sugar, stirring continuously until sugar has dissolved. (Mine was a little lumpy even after all the stirring but this did not seem to make a difference.) Remove from heat and cool until it has reached room temperature.
Set aside some paste (about 1/4 cup) to serve with the fish. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly-covered, non-reactive container. Slather the cod with the remaining miso paste and refrigerate in a separate non-reactive, tightly-covered container, for 2 to 3 days. (Yes, days!)
Once the fish has marinated, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grill, broil or pan sear the fish until the surface is browned. Bake fish 10 to 15 minutes. (I oiled a cast iron grill pan and heated it on top of the stove then grilled the fish about 2 minutes per side before putting the entire pan in the oven to bake for 10 minutes, which was plenty of time.) Spread reserved miso paste on the hot fish and serve with a few extra dabs of the paste.