This Japanese method for preparing fish has been around for a long time, but it became trendy after superstar chef Nobu Matsuhisa made it famous. The sweet-salty marinade and moist, fiaky fish has broad appeal, even to people who don’t think themselves fans of fish. My simple interpretation will make even the snobbiest of your seafoodie friends swoon.
This recipe uses yellow miso, which is on the milder end of the flavor spectrum. White miso will also work. Mirin is the sweet rice wine that is ubiquitous in Japanese cooking.
Black cod–sometimes called sablefish, butter fish, or Alaska cod–isn’t actually a cod at all. It is a rich, mild white fish with sweet, soft flesh found in the waters of the north Pacific. It is reputed to have even higher levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. Substitute white sea bass or Pacific halibut if you can’t find black cod.
What to Drink: The sweet-salty flavors in this dish are perfectly paired with a fruity sake, a wine with a hint of sweetness such as many kabinett rieslings, or a cold beer.
1. Heat the brown sugar with ¼ cup water in a small saucepan, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the miso, mirin, and sake to make a smooth paste. Coat the black cod with the miso paste, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or as long as 2 days.
2. To cook, preheat the broiler to high with a rack set in the upper third of the oven. Place the marinated black cod on a lightly oiled baking sheet and broil until the fish is fully cooked and the surface is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. (Alternatively, the fish can be baked in a preheated 450°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.)
3. Center the fish on a serving plate, and place a small bundle of the sesame spinach to the side. Drizzle some of the remaining sesame dressing around the fish and plate.