This is another very simple but stunningly flavorful, umami-lade dish from Stephanie Le’s Easy Gourmet. I noticed right away that the recipe is similar to the famous one I’ve seen over and over again from Nobu Matsuhisa for his miso marinated black cod, in that most of the ingredients are the same (mirin, sake, miso and sugar), but whereas Nobu uses what to me seems a wasteful amount of miso and other ingredients for the marinade, which is then ultimately thrown away, Stephanie is much more judicious. And I noticed that the fish was much less “soggy” than the Nobu version I’ve made. In short, Mike and I both loved it and I will be making it again and again.
I made the recipe with salmon instead of cod, because, frankly, salmon was on sale and cod was almost prohibitively expensive. Also, instead of baking and then broiling the fish, after marinating I pan fried it on one side over high heat and finished it in the oven, using a method I learned years ago to make a nice, crisp skin on fish. I saved the teeny bit of marinade to brush over the fish when it went into the oven. The idea is that you need a good bit of fat (although not quite as much when using salmon, for it has an inherently high fat content) in the pan, you get it screaming hot, almost to the point you would be deep frying, and you set the fish in the pan without moving for about 2 minutes. The fish is then finished in a low/medium temperature oven so that the flesh is not overcooked.
Even though this shot below is rather darkly and muddily drab in brightness and contrast, you can see the distinct crust that has formed on the fish. Sometimes if I haven’t removed the skin from the fish I will start the pan fry on the skin side to get a nice crispy skin, flip the fish, fry for 2 minutes on the other side, then finish in the oven but for half the time, as both sides have been seared instead of only one side.
I also marinated a couple of lemon slices and pan fried and baked them along with the fish. They ended up tasting very good, like a more palatable version of preserved lemons, in that you could eat them straight up rather than use them mainly as flavoring agents.
Stephanie’s recipe called to serve the fish with a quinoa salad but I just served a mess of arugula with some beets, pistachios, and charred radicchio and baby romaine on top.
I hope you all enjoy this dish which I am bringing to Angie’s weekly Fiesta Friday party. Many thanks, once again, to Angie and all of our talented and spirited co-hosts over these last several months.