Miso Ginger Marinated Sablefish

Miso black cod

For my next attempt at cooking sablefish (aka black cod) I decided to try my own take on the ever-popular miso marinade made famous by chef Nobu Matsuhisa. I’ve heard so much about how delicious this preparation is that I had to attempt it before I’m out of the sablefish I ordered online from Sizzlefish.com.

I love Asian cuisines, but have very little experience cooking in that style so I always find it a little intimidating. I also didn’t exactly have the right ingredients but after doing some online research, I’m hoping to come up with a reasonable facsimile of the original…or at least something that tastes good.

Thanks to the great information provided by Nami at her website I learned a little bit more about this traditional preparation. According to Nami, this marinade made of miso, sake and mirin is called Saikyozuke and originally hails from Kyoto. The traditional marination time of several days harkens back to the time when this was necessary to preserve fish for long-distance travel.

The recipe calls for sweet white miso paste called saikyo miso, some sake, and mirin, a sweetened rice wine that is popular in Japanese cooking. It took some searching local markets, but I was able to find white miso paste, not saikyo miso. But I totally spaced on the other important ingredients: sake and mirin. Without sake I contemplated a dash of one of my favorite gins, but after contacting Nami, she suggested gin would be too strong. So I skipped the sake altogether and for a mirin substitute I dissolved a tablespoon of sugar into about 1/4 cup of white wine.

marinating sablefish

I really hope I don’t offend anybody by totally butchering this time-honored preparation. However if I learned anything from growing up Sicilian-American, it is more important to use the best ingredients you have available than the absolute “correct” ingredients. So here goes nothin’…

Here are the steps for my version, but I suggest checking out Nami’s recipe over at justonecookbook.com for the authentic version.

The Recipe: Buying Seafood’s Miso Marinated Sablefish

black cod ready for oven

This recipe uses low FODMAP ingredients, but keep an eye on how much miso and mirin per serving.

  • 5 4oz fillets of Sablefish (black cod)
  • 5-6 Tbsp White Miso Paste
  • 3-4 Tbsp Mirin Substitute (sugar dissolved in white wine)
  • 3-4 Tbsp Freshly Grated Ginger
  • Salt

Sprinkle fish with salt, combine the miso, ginger, and mirin substitute and coat the fish in the mixture. Place in an airtight container for at least 24 hours. I let my fish go a day an a half and the whole time I kept thinking I should add more ginger.

black cod and miso baked at 400

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Remove the marinade with paper towels or your fingers so it does not burn. Bake sablefish skin side up on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes.

The Verdict

This came out very…very good – after 22 minutes is was just right. Silky, smooth and with a flavor that to me tasted pretty authentic, even though I used substitutions. The ginger was subtle, but present and compared to my last time cooking sablefish, the miso paste brought the umami to even deeper levels. It was less sweet than I expected and I didn’t get all that dark caramelisation but I think that is due to not using mirin. It didn’t come out looking as sexy as the pics I see online, but it tasted out of this world. I served mine on a bed of turmeric rice and a “crouton” of slow-risen sourdough toast.

sablefish with yellow rice

I’m hooked, not only do I really love sablefish/black cod, but I can’t wait to use the rest of my miso paste for a more traditional attempt at this delicious recipe. Salmon would be good with this miso marinade and I think barramundi would make for a tasty and affordable substitute for black cod.

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