Monday, 21 April 2014

Nobu: the black cod-father

This is a warning. You need two days for this recipe. There is nothing I hate more than getting all your ingredients in and proceeding with the first few steps to find you haven't read through the recipe. That sneaky "leave to marinate overnight" or "set aside to rise for four hours"... bastard, wily instructions.
As prestigious as Nobu's dish is (and as glorious as black cod is), please don't find the price tag, reputation and the amount of time it takes to make, intimidating. It's surprisingly simple and it really only takes a few steps to actually prepare. It just needs two days to marinate the beautiful sweet miso, mirin and sake into the fish.
Now I definitely can't take any credit for the recipe of this dish. Black cod with miso is synonymous with Nobu Matsuhisa and no doubt you should order it if you see it on a Japanese menu. But this isn't to say you shouldn't try it at home, and impress your guests. I hadn't actually planned on making this, until I was enamoured with the new Whole Foods in Fulham. I could walk up and down the aisles for a whole day, and it was one of the first places I saw where they sold black cod. Also known as sablefish or butterfish, this fish is so silky and buttery - it's quite difficult to overcook as it's fat keeps everything soft and moist, even that of a novice cook.
This became the perfect experiment for bank holiday weekend. Two extra days to find the ingredients (thank you Whole Foods), marinate the fish and treat yourself on Monday for a last Soeing hoorah. It's perfect to make in advance for friends, as cooking on the day barely takes fifteen minutes.
I've tried this with a similarly flaky and fatty fish as a test (should I mysteriously be unable to get myself to Whole Foods...pah!) and seabass works a treat. However, you'll need to adjust the cooking times slightly - in terms of price, there isn't much difference between the two, so do try black cod if you can.
Ingredients (serves 2) recipe adapted from Nobu: The Cookbook
2 100g fillets
60ml mirin
60ml sake
3.5 heaped tablespoons of sweet white miso paste ( I used Clearspring brand, available in most large supermarkets)
3 tablespoons of caster sugar

In a saucepan, heat up the sake and mirin until boiling - once it's bubbling away, boil away for twenty seconds to remove the alcohol. Lower the heat and stir in the miso paste. Once it is all incorporated into the liquid, turn the heat up again and add the sugar. Stir constantly to avoid burning on the bottom for a minute.

Pour the liquid into a baking dish to cool down to room temperature. ,ale sure you remove any bones from the fish if you need to (your fishmonger can help you on this). Slather the sauce over both sides of your fish. Leave the fish skin side up and cover the dish tightly with cling film. Leave in the fridge for 2 days to marinate.

Once you're ready to cook your fish, it will only take about fifteen minutes. Crisp up the skin by placing the fillet, skin side up, under the grill for a two minutes. Gently flip the fish and keep a vigilant eye on this - you want the top to be browned, but not burnt. This should take a further two minutes. Place the fish in a baking dish and heat in a pre heated oven at 200 degrees for seven minutes.

Whilst the fish is in the oven, heat up the reserved marinade gently and add a few drops of sweet soy sauce. Pour this over the top of your fish and serve immediately.


  1. Oh how fabulously delicious! (and so simple)

    1. Thanks! Hope you made it and it turned out deeelish!

  2. Can you translate this from ml to ounces? Can you substitute regular cane sugar for the castor? Did you flip the fish while it marinated? Thank you! Your photo is perfect! I'm dying to make this, can't wait.

    1. Hi Elizabeth - sorry for the late reply! I actually used caster sugar, it's easier to dissolve and finer so that totallly works. 60ml = 2.1 fluid oz - so I guess work to that. I didn't flip the fish while it marinated, I kept this skin side up (but made sure there was marinade sitting on top of the skin) - good luck!