So I thought I would make Nobu’s Black Cod With Miso for Thursday night dinner. Unfortunately, I was unable to get nice thick fillet cuts of black cod like the chilean seabass cuts that they sell at Whole Foods. I reflected on Nobu Matsuhisa comment that, “salmon and black cod…were my staple fish for grilling and sauteeing until…I discovered…Chilean sea bass…It was an epiphany..to find another fish that retained its soft juiciness after cooking” (Nobu: The Cookbook, p.95). As a result, I decided to go ahead and substitute the chilean seabass for the black cod. The online recipe for Nobu’s Black Cod With Miso can be found here –
…and of course, making/having the Nobu-style saikyo miso would be a must (see: https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/nobu-style-saikyo-miso/ )
Although this is a widely copied/adapted recipe, it’s been my experience that very few places do this dish well. In particular, when it hasn’t been done well, I’ve noticed that the miso hasn’t really penetrated deep into the fish fillet. In this situation, when the dish arrives, invariably, I can still see some degree of snowy whiteness of the black cod or chilean seabass on the surface of the fillet. When I’d made this dish before for myself in the past, it was my experience that I got the deep miso flavor in the fish if I let the fish marinate for more than 2 days (and I usually let it marinate for 3 days). So I bought the fillets Monday night and put them in a large ziploc bag with the marinade. I put the whole thing in the refridgerator, turning it over once in the morning and once in the evening.
Once you take the fish out the miso marinade, one should observe that the surface of the fillet has completely discolored from the original snow white. Some of the places where I’ve had the black cod miso where it’s been done really well is at Sanraku Four Seasons in San Francisco ( see: http://www.sanraku.com/ ) and Haru Boston (see: http://www.harusushi.com/location/boston ). At both restaurants, I asked how long the fish was in the marinade; Sanraku replied ‘close to 3 days’ and in Haru’s case ‘3 days’. I suppose it should come as no surprise that Haru used 3 days as the marinating time since Haru/Benihana brought in Chef Inoue from Nobu Malibu to oversee their cooking operations ( see: http://www.starchefs.com/news/press_releases/html/newsdetails.php?news_id=765 ).
So I preheated my countertop oven to 475 degrees F and then set it to broil. I popped the fish in for about 5 minutes or so (checking for light browning every so often). I then swapped oven cooking modes and set the countertop oven to 400 degrees F and baked/roasted the fish for about 6 minutes (interestingly, the original recipe called for 10-15 minutes) and checking for doneness. By the way – you can see Nobu himself cooking up a portion of his famous black cod miso here:
(see time indices 2:36-3:41)
Once the cooking was done, I decided to add a few twists. To contrast the miso, I decided to pair cherry tomatoes to add a little acidity (much like the version of the recipe in Nobu West [p. 177]). Instead of the banana leaf garnish usually associated with this dish, I thought it might be nice to add the butter lettuce echoing the “Black Cod In Butter Lettuce Wraps” from Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook [p. 42, 43].
As my wife and I shared this meal, we both commented how the miso had indeed penetrated deeply into the seabass fillet. My wife is generally not one for having sweet things on her palate, but she commented having the miso marinated seabass in combination with the the butter lettuce, tomatoes and side of rice made this a very pleasant meal.