Culinary Anthropologist

Black cod with miso

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It was fairly clear in the end:

Black cod: 9; Roast chicken: 6;
Aubergine soup: 5;
Squash soup: 2

Thanks for all the votes.  You were right about the squash soup – it’s
not quite as nice as the other dishes.  I’ll send the recipes for the
chicken and the aubergine soup another week.  The squash soup has
obligingly resigned.  (Voting has gone pretty well over here in the US
of A too.)

black cod with miso.jpg

Typically the marinade for this dish would just consist of mirin, sake (both types of Japanese rice wine), miso and sugar.  I tried making it just like this.  I also it tried with lots of soy sauce and aromatics but no miso.  And I tried it again with everything, and liked this third way best.  For me the traditional recipe is a little too sweet and cloying.  The dish is supposed to be rich and savoury but also benefits from the sharpness of the soy sauce, the aromatic flavours of the garlic and ginger, and the heat of the chilli.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients listed for the marinade.  All three ways we tried it were delicious.  I think rice wine (mirin, sake and Chinese versions all taste different but all work) and sugar are essential.  Then add soy sauce and/or miso, and the aromatics if you have them.

black cod 3.JPGRecipe:  Black cod with miso.pdf 

Serves:  4
Preparation time:   15 mins
Marinating time:  1 hour – 3 days
Cooking time:  15 mins

150 ml (5 US fl oz) rice wine
75 ml (2 1/2 US fl oz) dark soy sauce
75 ml (2 1/2 US fl oz) light soy sauce
75 ml (2 1/2 US fl oz) rice vinegar
75 ml (2 1/2 US fl oz) water
200g (1 cup) sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli oil
2 little chillis (green or red), sliced, leaving seeds in
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
250g (9 oz) white miso paste (‘shiro miso’)
approx 700g (1 1/2 lb) black cod fillet(s)
dash of groundnut oil
spring onion slices and pickled ginger and/or lemon wedges to garnish

  1. First, make the marinade:  In a small saucepan combine all the ingredients except the miso, fish, groundnut oil and garnish.  Very slowly bring to a boil to allow sugar to dissolve and flavours to combine.  Simmer for 2 mins. 
  2. Add miso to the pan and stir over a low heat to fully combine.  Don’t let it boil or you’ll kill the friendly bacteria.  Your marinade should be a smooth soup-like consistency.  Then let it cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, wash and dry the fish.  Check for bones.  Leave the skin on.
  4. In a dish cover the fish with the cooled marinade and leave for at least an hour.  The longer the better.  If leaving for more than an hour, refrigerate.
  5. When it is time to cook, bring the fish to room temperature and preheat the oven to as hot as it will go.  260 C (500 F) or above is best.  Preheat a roasting tin in the oven.
  6. Remove fish from marinade and scrape off any bits of chilli, garlic or ginger but do not rinse.  Reserve the marinade.  Line the roasting tin with a little groundnut oil and lay on the fish, skin side down.  Roast for 10-15 mins.  (Fish takes 8-10 mins per inch of thickness.)  Be careful not to over-cook.  You want it only just opaque and starting to flake, and still very moist.
  7. Meanwhile make the sauce and prepare the garnish.  Pour marinade into a pan, leaving the bits of chilli, garlic and ginger behind, and gently heat. 
  8. The black cod can be served on its own with just the sauce and garnish as it is so rich.  For a heartier meal, good side dishes would be rice and some bright green stir-fried bok choy. 

Learn more about black cod and miso.

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