Ingredients: cod, fermented yellow soybeans, soy sauce, dry sherry, palm sugar, ginger, peanut oil, sesame oil, black pepper, salt.
Served with: snap peas, button mushrooms, bamboo, fermented yellow soybeans, black sesame seeds, white rice.
Miso-Glazed Black Cod, a heavenly teriyaki-style fish preparation, is a popular dish these days. I almost said “hot,” but stopped myself because honestly I have no idea if it’s already passé. All I know is that I first tried it in an upscale sushi restaurant outside Philadelphia, was blown away, and subsequently read about the exact same dish in a variety of blogs and food magazines. Apparently it is a Nobuyuki Matsuhisa original, from his famous Nobu restaurant in NYC.
I noticed some beautiful cod fillets in the supermarket here, so I decided to have a go at preparing Miso Cod myself. I began the marinade with mashed fermented yellow beans, which I figured would be close enough to miso. I used dry sherry instead of sake, and filled out the flavor with plenty of palm sugar (brown sugar works just as well), ginger powder, peanut oil, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. I let the cod swim in that for about a day and a half, less than the recommended 3 days but surely (?) enough to please.
To cook the fish, I placed the fillets onto foil and broiled them until mildly charred, then turned down the heat in the oven and let them finish for a few minutes. I served the cod with a quick stir-fry of snap peas, bamboo shoot strips, button mushrooms, and some whole yellow fermented soybeans (the same ones I mashed for the marinade). White rice and black sesame seeds rounded out the meal.
My cod was fine, but decidedly un-heavenly. What went wrong? The texture of the fish just didn’t seem to match the one in my memory. I was looking for a crispy, glazy, charry exterior, with a dense but silky inner texture. What I made was just sort of wet – inside and out. I had tried to pat it dry as much as possible before broiling, but it’s almost as if I had used the wrong kind of fish.
Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. Thanks Google! Apparently, “cod” has nothing to do with “black cod,” which is another name for sable. I’ve had sable before, but only in cold-smoked deli form. Still, it makes sense, because I remember it having a silky, oily texture (which I liked very much). I can totally imagine that crisping up under a broiler.
Okay then, guess I’ll be looking for black cod from now on.