Cod Cheeks With (Garlic) Wasabi Pepper Sauce

Previously, on –

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 and in particular ). So why not swap in the cod cheeks instead (An online copy of the recipe can be found here:  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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