The Only Black Cod Recipe You’ll Ever Need
My mom taught me how to cook fish a long time ago and it still scares the bejeezus out of me. It’s only natural, right? Something that’s so easy to F up spurs a little freak-out from time to time. But once we take a deep breath get down to it, cooking fish can be easier than any other meat. This recipe is the perfect example of that fact.
A classic Japanese dish, most well-known from chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s namesake restaurant and cookbook, miso-glazed black cod is deceptively delicious. This masterpiece of an under-the-sea delicacy gets slathered in marinade and broiled under a hotter-than-the-sun broiler for ten minutes; the number ingredients hovers around seven; the active time rests right around fifteen minutes—and the entire thing gets a 100% on the impress-your-guests scale. All you need is enough time to marinate your fish, and the rest falls into place just before you're ready to eat.
This is the only black cod recipe you’ll ever need.
It’s sweet and savory, easy and impressive, decadent and healthy—basically, the best of all worlds. The key is this: you can used any kind of fatty fish with this recipe. While we heart the hearty texture and mild flavor of black cod, you could easily replace it with salmon, albacore, halibut, or arctic char.
Time: 1 ½ hrs (or a few days, if you want to marinate for longer)
Active Time: 15 min
Drink: Vouvray or any off-dry, high acid white wine
1. Marinade and marinate
Whisk together miso, sake, mirin, soy sauce, oil, and sugar until incorporated. Pour mixture into a large ziplock bag and add black cod. Gently move bag around to coat the fish in the mixture, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, or as many as two days.
2. Ready your broiler
Move the upper rack of your oven four inches away from your broiler—in my oven, this is the top shelf. Turn your broiler on and let it heat up for about five minutes.
3. Cook the black cod
Cover a broiler-safe sheet pan with aluminum foil and place the fish skin-side down on top. Discard the extra marinade. Then, place the fish in the oven and broil for ten minutes, or until the fish is well-charred.
NOTE: The marinade has sugar in it, which may burn and smoke under the broiler. The fish will be fine, but if there’s marinade on the pan that’s smoking up your place, just cover it with foil, leaving only the fish exposed to the broiler. (For more on this, see below.)
Remove the fish from the broiler and remove pinbones with a pair of tweezers. They should slide right out at this point. Plate on a large platter atop a bed of cilantro tossed in sesame oil and serve immediately.
Um, excuse me?
Is it better to buy one large piece of fish or individual potions?
It’s up to you! I prefer cooking one large piece and lazily portioning it at the table with a large spoon and fork (see picture below). I find this to be more intimate, and the dish itself looks pretty grand. That being said, there are pros for individual potions, too. It's a personal choice with no wrong answer.
Should I grease the tinfoil before putting the fish down?
Absolutely not. The first time I cooked this recipe a few years ago I was worried about sticking and decided—in a panic—to butter my aluminum foil. Within 2 minutes under the broiler, my pan was on fire. It was the first and only time I have accidentally caused a fire in my kitchen. The best thing? The fish was still delicious. That’s why I know this recipe is foolproof.
Why do I discard the extra marinade rather than pouring it over the fish?
The extra marinade will smoke and burn in the oven because of its high sugar content. You want a little char on the fish itself, but you don't want to smoke up your house too much.
Will I smoke up my house a little bit?
Definitely. Turn on your highest fan before you cook the fish and have faith in me—you will not burn down your house. Check the fish at about five minutes to see if any parts are burning too much. If you're worried about too much char, cover the trouble areas with tin foil.
If I use a different type of fish, is the recipe still the same?
Yep! As we mentioned earlier, just try to stick with fatty, firm fish. Softer, flakier fish (like regular cod, for example) is a little too delicate for this recipe.
What should I serve this with?
The fish is the star of the meal—serve it with sides that support rather than overshadow. A quick, cold soba noodle salad, perhaps? Or sushi rice and pickled veggies?