I am not the first, nor will I be the last blogger to talk about Nobu’s signature miso black cod. It’s such a talked about dish for a reason – it is delicious. It might not look too impressive; it’s just a piece of fish with a few blobs of sauce, wedge of lemon and a pickled ginger for garnish/palate cleansing. But I know many would actually argue that its simple presentation is precisely what is so striking about this dish. And at its core, this is a remarkably simple dish. (And yes, I have been back to eat it since 2007.)
It’s a little hard to describe exactly what is so appealing about the miso black cod. For such a simple dish, it has quite a complex flavour profile. Everything about it is perfect. The flesh is cooked ever so delicately and is very flavour intensive. It’s been marinated for 3 days (the waitstaff will advise you of this when they introduce the dish to the table) so the flavours permeate through every bit of the fish. Every bite you take is greeted with a full hit of the sweet and savory miso flavours. It is just so very good.
And surprisingly simple to reproduce at home. I don’t mean to be blasè when I say that it’s a very basic marinade. It’s basic because it’s actually a classic Japanese marinade for miso grilled anything. Yes, this marinade is essentially the same as the one used for miso glazed eggplants (nasu dengaku), albeit with slightly different ratios. It contains only 4 ingredients, 3 of which may be new to your pantry but once you stock them, they will open many doors in Japanese cookery.
I must confess it’s a bit of a lie to say that I remade Nobu’s miso black cod at home hence the inverted commas in the title above. See while I had the marinade, I didn’t have any black cod. I’ve asked my fish monger a number of times, but to date black cod hasn’t been available at my local markets. As a proxy I used mackeral (a firm white flesh fish) in its place. Apparently Chilean seabass is the best substitute for black cod because it has a similar level of oil through its flesh, but again I haven’t seen this in my markets. If anyone knows where to find black cod fillets in Melbourne, please do share. Otherwise I think any firm fleshed white fish would make a decent substitute, honestly the marinade will make any fish taste amazing.
As I’ve mentioned, a number of bloggers have already discussed the reproduction of Nobu’s miso black cod at home including RasaMalaysia and momofuku for 2. The below recipe has been slightly adapted from Nobu: The Cookbook.
RECIPE – Nobu’s miso fish recipe (serves 2)
Orginal recipe from Nobu: The Cookbook
- 2 -3 firm fleshed fish fillets totalling ~500g
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/3 cup shiro miso paste (white miso paste)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- In a small saucepan, heat sake and mirin on medium to high heat until simmering to cook off alcohol slightly. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and stir in shiro miso paste until completely dissolved. Turn heat back up and add in sugar, stir until sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Make sure the fish fillets are dry then cover fish with marinade. Store fish in a covered container and refrigerate for at least 2 days (Nobu marinades it for 3 days).
- To cook, preheat oven to 200°C.
- Dab off excess marinade from the surface of the fish with a paper towel.
- Heat a non stick grill or fry pan on medium to high heat. Place fish in pan and sear each side for ~30 seconds to caramelise.
- Transfer fish into hot oven and cook for 10-15 minutes depending on how thick your fish fillets are.
- While the fish is cooking, heat marinade in a small pan to reduce until it becomes thicker in consistency.
- Serve fish hot with a few dollops of reduced marinade on the side.
Seriously, aside from the changed fish variety, this is essentially how Nobu’s miso black cod tastes. For those who don’t live near a Nobu restaurant or those who are on a bit of a budget (this dish comes in at a cool $49 at Melbourne’s Nobu), this recipe is almost like getting the famed chef to cook in your own home. Ok so that may be an exaggeration of sorts, but you get what I’m trying to say. And for the ones who already know and love the dish, isn’t this recipe a must try by default?!