January 1, 2006
From my first taste 15 years ago, I was enchanted with Black Cod in Sake Kasu, the Japanese preparation of sablefish (also known as black cod), in which the noble fish is marinated in kasu. Kasu is the fragrant, doughy sediment left over after rice is fermented to make sake, much like the lees, or dregs, that remain after winemaking. My quick variation is a heady mixture of coconut milk (for texture), white miso (for a malty flavor similar to kasu), and sake (for mellow acidity). This is one of my original recipes, often enjoyed at our house, and will appear in my upcoming book, Northwest Wining and Dining (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007). I like to pair it with a vibrant Viognier bursting with floral aromas, fresh fruit in the mouth, and a long finish.
1/2 cup regular or light coconut milk (Note: Be sure to shake the can before opening and stir the coconut cream solids back into the coconut milk before measuring.)
1/4 cup white miso (See Cook’s Hint, below)
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin (See Cook’s Hint, below)
2 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 pounds sablefish (black cod) fillet, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
Shichimi Togarashi, optional (See Cook’s Hint, below)
In a small nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, miso, rice vinegar, mirin, sake, mustard, and brown sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Pour half the marinade (about 1/2 cup) into a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, add the sablefish, and turn several times to coat the fish completely. Let the fish marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for several hours or up to overnight. Cover the remaining marinade and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for later use.
Ten minutes before cooking, remove the fish and the reserved marinade from the refrigerator. Place the oven rack 3 to 4 inches from the heat source. Preheat the broiler. Arrange a broiler pan with a rack and oil the rack or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Arrange the sablefish skin side down on the broiler rack without crowding. Discard the resealable bag and used marinade.
With a clean pastry brush, brush the flesh side of the fish liberally with the reserved marinade. Cook 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the broiler and brush liberally with the glaze. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the broiler and brush liberally with the glaze. Return the pan to the oven and cook 3 to 5 minutes more, or until the fish just flakes and the glaze is golden brown and bubbly.
To serve, cut the fish into six portions and divide among dinner plates. If desired, sprinkle lightly with the Japanese pepper.