I remember the first time I ate black cod. It was love at first bite. Rich, succulent, and wonderfully buttery. A luxury of the sea. No other fish has quite the same cachet.
The hardest part about cooking black cod is actually being able to find it! Luckily, I’ve found a place that consistently sells whole, frozen fillets of it. Slight problem though…this superb grocer isn’t exactly near by. It’s about 6 hours from Toronto…and in another province. So with that said, it isn’t something I cook very often, but only when I visit the good folks who raised me at our home-away-from-home in Mont-Tremblant, QC. Now I know that heading to Tremblant isn’t exactly practical. Your best bet would be to try checking out a local fishmonger or for all you Torontonians, I know that you can find it at the St. Lawrence market.
This recipe is adapted from Nobu Matsushia of the Nobu restaurant empire, and has been cloned by restaurants around the world. Nobu infuses the fish with a miso and sake based marinade for two to three days, but I find that it actually produces a better and fresher result if only left for a number of hours. Instead of using sake and sugar, I swapped it for soy sauce and agave nectar. It’s a complete balance of sweet and salty, and compliments the natural oiliness of the fish.
If you’ve managed to get your hands on some, then you can breathe easy. The hardest part is over! Black cod is an extremely forgiving fish to cook. Because of it’s high fat content it’s almost impossible to overcook. And other than the time that’s needed for marinating, it’s only takes about 10 minutes. With it’s snow-white filet and perfect flake, it’s an elegant dish that it will have your guests thinking you slaved away for hours when really…you didn’t.
If you can’t get a hold of black cod, you can use another oily fish like salmon or trout. But to be totally honest, there’s nothing that’s a perfect substitute.
- Four 6-7oz. black cod fillets, de-scaled
- 1/3 cup white miso paste
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp agave
- Olive oil
- Pat dry the black cod with paper towel. Combine miso, soy sauce, mirin and agave. Marinade the cod in a non-reactive container for 5-8 hours. Ensure that the marinade is only on the fleshy part of the fish and not on the skin.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Wipe off excess marinade from the fish but don’t rinse them. Heat an oven-proof skillet over high heat and film the pan with a little olive oil. Place the fish skin-side up and cook fish for 2 minutes. Flip and cook skin-side down for another 2 minutes. Transfer to the oven and cook for 5-7 minutes. To tell if the fish is cooked, slide a thin skewer or cake tester into the flesh. It’s done if it easily slides in and out.
- If the black cod has pin bones, remove them after the fish is cooked. They’re much easier to pull out after the cooking process.