If you've ever had Miso Black Cod at a Japanese restaurant, you'll know what I mean when I say it is simply delicious. There is no other way to describe the taste of this fish. The sweetness of the miso marinade, mixed with the buttery texture of the fish makes for a light and delightful meal. It had been a good few months since i'd last had this meal, and I was craving an opportunity to have it again. I searched all over for a restaurant that had it in Dublin, but had no luck (if anyone knows of one please let me know!!), so thought i'd do the next best thing, and try to recreate it myself at home.
First hurdle I faced was buying the Black Cod. Turns out, black cod is like gold dust and really isn't from the Cod family at all. It is also known as Sablefish or Butterfish, and is almost impossible to get your hands on. As an alternative, you can you use Chilean Sea Bass which is equally fatty and suits the grilling cooking technique, or you can use Salmon, which is much more readily available and is still high in fat and has a buttery texture. Ok, so I've used the term "fatty" which may sound off putting, but fatty fish is actually some of the tastiest and healthiest foods from the sea. Oily fish like Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids; these are good fats unlike the saturated fats you find in most meats.
While this recipe is fairly easy to make, it's not something you can whip up in half an hour after work. This is a dish you're going to want to cook to impress someone. Think date night, dinner parties or a special weekend meal. There aren't many steps involved, just prep work and a bit of patience. You may not be able to find all these ingredients at your local supermarket; however I have seen mirin (a sweetened rice wine) at all the usual supermarkets. You'll have to go to speciality stores to pick up the white miso paste and sake - you can find them at the Asia Market in Dublin (linked here for Miso and here for Sake), Fallon & Byrne and Dollard & Co.
Ingredients to serve 4
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
4 tablespoons white miso paste
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 Salmon fillets
Marinate the Salmon fillets in the miso marinade mixture 24 hours before cooking (you can marinate as long as 2-3 days beforehand). Prepare the marinade by mixing the sake and mirin in medium saucepan over high heat. Boil for 30 seconds or so to evaporate the alcohol in the sake and mirin. Reduce the heat to low and add in the miso paste and whisk through until the mixture is smooth. When the marinade is smooth, turn up the heat to high and add the sugar, mixing until fully dissolved while ensuring the sugar doesn't burn. Remove the pan off the heat and cool mixture to room temperature. Pat dry the Salmon fillets and place skin side up in the mixture, and ensure that the fillets are equally covered. Cover your dish with a lid, or cling film and place in the fridge.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Remove the fish from the marinade and wipe off any excess marinade from the fillets with a paper towel. Do not rinse the fish. Heat a frying pan over high heat and coat the pan in a little vegetable oil (use a pan which can be also put in the oven) then place the fish skin side up on the pan for 2 mins or until the fish browns. Flip the fish over and cook skin side down for a minute and a half. Transfer from heat and place pan inside the heated oven. Cook for 5 mins or until the fish is cooked and flakes easily.
Serve for dinner with rice and a side of sauteed garlic sesame spinach.