Cod Cheeks With (Garlic) Wasabi Pepper Sauce

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/wasabi-pepper-sauce/
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/engagement-anniversary-omakase-at-home-2012/

So I was in a quandary about what to make for supper (Thursday) tonight until I remembered seeing an item at Legal Seafoods’ Market at Chestnut Hill – cod cheeks.  If memory serves me correctly, Matsuhisa-sama has halibut cheeks with wasabi pepper sauce on the menu at many of his restaurants (see http://www.jeanjhsu.com/2008/04/nobu-fifty-seven.html and in particular http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Mv_HZR9Aoio/R_r7PIgiUtI/AAAAAAAAAVo/zIGz2bRPerg/s1600/nobu4.jpg ). So why not swap in the cod cheeks instead (An online copy of the recipe can be found here:  http://www.philly.com/philly/restaurants/recipes/34651804.html)?  Since I’d also gotten a recent ‘gift’ of fresh garden cucumbers, I thought I’d also make a ‘ceviche’ of tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado and red onion to start the meal.

Basically, the main dish appeared to be a fish-variant of the abalone with wasabi pepper sauce (Nobu: The Cookbook, p. 27) – probably using 1 lb of fish cheek meat for the 1lb of abalone.  The dish can also be viewed relative to the template of the squid pasta with light garlic sauce (Nobu: The Cookbook, p. 82); but instead of adding 4 tablespoons of the nikiri sake soy, you add 3 tablespoons of the wasabi pepper sauce (to scale for 1/4 lb of the squid).  The abalone (now halibut/cod cheek) with wasabi pepper sauce use the scaled amount of butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons of grated garlic, vegetables and sauce but offers little guidance on the salt and pepper.  I would probably add about 2 3-fingered pinches of salt to the stir fry of butter, garlic, vegetables and 1 3-fingered pinch of shichimi togarashi.  As for the use of the pepper – I would add that in with the wasabi pepper sauce much like I did when I did the earlier dishes with garlic wasabi pepper.

For the wasabi pepper sauce (with black pepper)
a. 2 tablespoons of wasabi powder
4 tablespoons of water
3 teaspoons of ground black pepper

b. 3 tablespoons usukuchi (“light”) soy sauce
3 tablespoons regular soy sauce

Combine (a) and let sit for ~10 minutes to let the flavor develop
Combine (b) to (a) after (a) has sat for ~10 minutes
The original recipe calls for adding ~4 oz of dashi, but I add 3oz of nikiri sake here

Wasabi Pepper Sauce

So I would ‘shake and bake’ the cod cheeks with 6 tablespoons of flour mixed with 1 teaspoon of 4:1

Left – cod cheeks from Legal Seafoods Market, Chestnut Hill, MA, Right – flour and salt/pepper mix

salt/pepper mix and then fry them in rice oil (at about 60% max power) and then briefly set aside.

Frying up the seasoned flour coated cod cheeks

While the cod cheeks were resting, I would set up to saute the vegetables. I would start by adding more rice oil (remember, my wife doesn’t like heated butter) and then adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of grated garlic on medium heat and then quickly toss in 5 oz of sliced shiitake mushrooms on high

5 oz of sliced shiitake mushrooms

Sautee’ing the sliced shiitake in grated garlic and rice oil

heat  for about 2 minutes and then ~6 oz  of blanched bite size pieces of broccoli florets on medium

Blanched broccoli florets

heat for about another 2 minutes, seasoned with the 2 pinches of sea salt and a pinch of the togarashi.  At this point, I’d pour in 5 oz of the sauce, stir again and then add the fried cod cheeks to toss altogther one last time before serving.

Upper right – tomato avocado ceviche, Lower Left – Cod Cheeks, Broccoli Florets, Shiitake With (Garlic) Wasabi Pepper Sauce

It was a very nice meal.  My wife remarked that she would like me to adjust the dish (next time) so that I would plate the vegetables and sauce first and then top them with the fried cod cheeks – she thought it would nicer to have the chance to enjoy the crispness of the fried cod cheeks (then again, she loves tempura!).  I must say, the dish was a wonderful surprise for me, since I’d never had fish cheek meat before, per se.  I found the cod cheek  toothsome, reminding me a little of belly cuts of fish.  My wife and I noticed one other thing about this dish – the dish has a lot of bold punchy flavors and, like mapo tofu, is best eaten with a hot bowl of white rice.

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