I’ve been trying to find a way to use gin in a marinade for fish for a while but decided to give it a go for National Seafood Month. With all the various botanicals infused in the alcohol I would assume gin, in all its various forms, would be a natural choice. However I’ve only found a few recipes online but none were really what I was looking for. Finally I decided to whip up something resembling a classic gimlet cocktail, but in marinade form…and with plenty of fresh grated ginger. On hand in the freezer were the last two portions of sablefish/black cod from my order from Sizzlefish. My thought is that the high oil content of the fish, will go well with the acidity and alcohol of the marinade. That’s the thought, let’s see how I did in practice.
Choosing a Gin
For the gin, there are plenty of favorites that I could’ve used: Aviation, Bombay Sapphire, Plymouth, but I decided on Nautical Gin. It’s a relatively new gin and I first found it earlier this summer. Nautical is distilled right here in Massachusetts and besides having a unique taste, it’s got one of the coolest bottles in a booze genre known for cool bottles. Nautical is an “American style” gin so the traditional juniper is toned down to express the other 9 botanicals in the recipe. Lemongrass, coriander, mint, even a bit of sea salt are all part of the flavor profile that I felt would work well with seafood. Plus, I happened to have a bottle in the house.
When I’m not enjoying a gin and tonic I like an old-school gimlet, but made with fresh lime juice and simple syrup instead of Rose’s lime cordial. The formula for Rose’s must have changed because between the HFCS and the plastic bottle, all I taste are chemicals. I just happened to have a jug of homemade simple syrup that I infused with lime zest and juice. The gin and the limey, sugary syrup sounded like a good start to a marinade for the sablefish, and the addition of fresh grated ginger just seemed natural.
Speaking of the sablefish/black cod, I could not be happier with the order I made with Sizzlefish.com earlier this year. Every piece has been pristine, even after sitting in my freezer, and absolutely delicious.
Recipe: Black Cod with Gin, Ginger and Lime – “Gimlet Style”
Ingredients: (This is a low-FODMAP recipe)
- 2oz Gin
- 2oz Lime cordial (simple syrup infused with lime)
- 2Tbsp Fresh grated ginger
- Juice from 1 lime (adjust as needed)
- 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
- 8-12oz Black cod fillets, thawed
- Salt and pepper
Combine gin, lime cordial, ginger and olive oil and whisk together. Add lime juice until you reach your desired flavor. Pour over fish fillets and let marinate for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 425F. Place fish on parchment lined baking sheet and cook 15-20 minutes, basting with marinade if desired.
Although I did not really intend to make a vinaigrette, (or should I say ginaigrette) I was a little disappointed when my marinade kept separating. I assume it’s because I didn’t have enough oil for the acid, I adjusted for that in the ingredients, but use as much oil as you need. Once mixed it really did have a gimlet like flavor, but with a big kick of ginger. The gin has so much going on that it is still the dominant flavor even when you add good olive oil.
In the oven, ginger was the dominant aroma to start, but mellowed at the half-way point. It was at that point I basted the fish with more gin marinade. The black cod was juicy and starting to flake at 20 minutes and I served it up with roasted ginger carrots.
The Verdict: Gimlet Style Black Cod with Nautical Gin
The flavorings of the marinade were present, but subtle. If I do this again I will cut back on the oil or add much more lime and gin. A little more of the lime cordial probably would’ve helped caramelization. That being said, it was very tasty and compared to my other attempts at sablefish, it showcased more of the fish’s natural flavor. I have to say that with the limited sample I’ve had with sablefish/black cod, it does not need much of anything besides salt to be delicious. This was not sweet like when I used miso paste or maple syrup, but I have a feeling the gin’s botanicals brought out some of the lower notes I’ve missed before. It tasted like a true cod, but more silky and less flaky thanks to all of that delicious oil that makes black cod so coveted.
In the end, I liked it, a lot…but I’m not satisfied, I’m pretty sure I can improve upon this recipe. With a few tweaks, a gin based marinade could work very well on sablefish, salmon, tuna and other oily fish. Don’t be surprised if I revisit this recipe…
Anyone else out there cook with gin? Let me know in the comments!
Lovely marinade. I was disappointed to see North Atlantic cod put back on the danger list. Our stock management / mismanagement is pretty pathetic.
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Thank you Conor. Over on my side of the Atlantic cod is very controversial. Scientists and fishermen are at odds and guys I know stay clear of the fish because they can catch triple their quota in only 20 minutes. Throw in a huge seal population, dogfish, cod cannibalism and warming oceans…it makes my head spin.