I’m proud to introduce you all to Robert Blessing, an amazingly talented cook and blogger from Anchorage, Alaska. We met a few years back, and I’ve always been an admirer of his hearty, unique culinary creations. He uses the freshest ingredients he can find, and you know Alaska is the place to find them, especially when it comes to fish, a lot of which he catches himself!
Robert is an extremely gifted cook, and was gracious enough to guest blog for me. Robert has two blogs where you can see his amazing dishes, step by step, and you can find them HERE and HERE. Please check them out, especially the latter! Now, without further adieu, here’s Robert showing us his Miso Marinated Alaskan Black Cod! Just try to keep your salivary glands in check – I dare you!
For some time now I have been on the hunt for a reliable source of Black Cod. Even in Anchorage, Alaska it seems the stuff is like gold. Friends don’t share, stores never have the stuff, everything gets shipped to Japan, etc. Well that is a bunch of crap. It became a mission.
In the words of GW “Mission Accomplished”. While looking around online for various farmer’s markets, I came across one that had a seafood vendor promising fresh black cod. Well I’ll be. So you know I was there bright and early. The market was not what you might expect. About 8-10 vendors in a parking lot selling their wares. But as promised, the seafood guy had the goods, black cod, scallops, side stripe shrimp, and of course halibut. At $14/lb it wasn’t cheap but he promised to have it through August.
So begins the recipe hunt. The only times that I have had the stuff before was at a couple of sushi places. On the menu they call it a grilled black cod appetizer. Looking online I found the Nobu recipe that seemed the closest to what I was looking for.
Miso Black Cod
- 1 cup sake
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups white miso paste
- 3 cloves sliced garlic
- 2 sliced green onions
Bring your mirin and sake to a boil to burn off the alcohol. I tossed in the green onions and garlic to add more flavor. Turn off the heat. Now stir in your sugar so that it dissolves, then the miso paste. I used a whisk to break it up and get a uniform mixture. Set aside to cool.
Put your fish into a ziploc and cover with the cooled marinade. Be sure to set aside about 1/2 cup to use as a sauce/glaze later on. Now the waiting begins. I vowed to let at least some of the fish marinade for a full 3 days. The recipe says this is best so I let some go the distance. I did experiment a bit after one day. Grilling up some to get a feel for the process.
Overcooking fish is a sin punishable with banishment from my kitchen. So on the grill I was very careful to keep an eye on things. The grill fought with me when it came to releasing the fish. It also didn’t give me the golden glaze that I had in my minds eye when visualizing this dish.
So my experiment taught me several things. I would do the fully marinated fish under the broiler. Also that this fish needs to be fully cooked. Medium rare doesn’t fly. Trust me.
With the protein taken care of I got to prepping my sides. Calrose rice is always appropriate with fish like this. For a veggie I found some delicious looking Gai Lan. It is also known as Chinese broccoli. First cut the stems into sections. Basically just cut the thicker part of the stems away from the leaves and into bite size pieces. Blanch the thicker parts in salted boiling water for a minute and then add in the rest of the leaves. I let them go just until they turn bright green.
These go right into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Start a bit of olive oil, just a dash of sesame oil, and some sliced garlic to sauteeing. I ended up adding a pinch of chile flakes as well. When the garlic just starts to turn golden, toss in your drained greens. I suggest even squeezing out as much water as possible. Sautee over high heat and then at the very end I seasoned with some ponzu sauce ( yuzu citrus flavored soy sauce ).
Now for the fish. I heated up a cast iron skillet on the stove. I wiped it down with just a bit of olive oil and put the fish in to sear skin side down. The sugar in the marinade almost guarantees sticking so just be prepared. After a minute I put the skillet under a broiler on high. After another couple of minutes I brushed on some of the reserved marinade. Another couple of minutes and it should start to caramelize nicely. The flakes of the fish will actually start to separate. Don’t worry, this is normal.
Now to plate. Never have I claimed to be an artist when it comes to things like this. So simple is best, some rice, gai lan, and your fish. I did add a splash of the miso sauce and some daikon sprouts.
Now tell me that isn’t the most beautiful piece of fish ever.
That is what I had pictured when I decided to cook this dish. It is sweet, moist, and just a few crunchy bits from the glazing.
Thank you Lisa for giving me the opportunity to share a little of my food with your readers.