Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Black Miso Cured Cod

A year or so ago I had an inspiringly delicious meal at Australasia in Manchester. It was so good that I emailed the head chef on a whim, begging for their black cod recipe. Much to my surprise and gratitude, they kindly obliged.

I have been meaning to try it out for a while but since the ingredients are both slightly far fetched and expensive, I have been waiting for the right opportunity. The perfect occasion recently arose when I decided to treat my mum and cousins to a proper dinner party.

Black cod isn't the cheapest of ingredients at around £7 per head, but, like a few inimitable culinary treasures, it most certainly is worth it. Black cod live deep down in the ocean, deeper than regular cod and therefore have much fattier meat to insulate them. This makes them harder to fish but delicious to eat with a texture somewhere between regular cod and hot, melty bone marrow.

The simple recipe below provides a deep, salty, caramel flavour base for the cod to melt into - paradise on a plate!

125g per person black cod
30g per person miso
30ml per person mirin
20g per person sugar (the restaurant uses palm sugar but that can be disastrous if you get the wrong one, so I stick to sugar)

First mix your mirin into the miso slowly, splash by splash. Next mix in the sugar and heat until dissolved and slightly reduced to a thicker syrupy texture akin to maple syrup rather than golden syrup.

Allow to cool completely then pour over your fish and MARINATE FOR 3 - 6 HOURS. (I have capitalized that because I often start doing a recipe before realising that the time scale isn't right for what I want)

After the fish has marinated for long enough, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Shake off any excess marinade and place the fish in the oven for 8 minutes before checking. It should take 8-12minutes but remember that it continues cooking for a while after you have taken it out if the oven. Really you want to be able to prize one flake of fish away from another with relative but not too much ease.

Serve on an aspidistra leaves, neatly curled over the fish in a large loop. You can get the leaves from china town or, at vast expense (£1 per leaf) from a specialist florist. While it doesn't add any flavour and is purely for presentation, I believe that eating off a leaf has a psychological effect and set of associations that may well add to the experience.

We served it with sake and ginger infused sushi rice, miso soup made with proper nori stock. Soya doused spinach and Japanese cucumber pickle (see Everyday Harumi recipes).

For pudding I was uncharacteristically lazy and bought delicious blood orange and chocolate sorbets from Gelupo, complete with cones for an extra bit of fun.