Thursday, October 15, 2009

Black Cod with Miso

I think of this as a Matsuhisa signature dish, but maybe only because I have ordered it every time I have eaten at Matsuhisa.  This dish is delicious, and very easy.

From the cookbook.

Again, this recipe encapsulated another recipe, Saikyo Miso. This miso sauce is used to marinate the cod for 2-3 days, something I find a little frightening having in my head the idea that one should cook fish the day one buys it. Nevermind.

Matsuhisa-san calls for 4 x .5 lb black cod fillets, however having eaten this dish in his restaurant, I can tell you he is not serving .5 lb fillets. At Nijiya Market, the black cod is pre packaged in .25 lb fillets, and just eyeballing them, this seems about the right size for both the restaurant and home service.

Off on a 2-day road trip for work I marinate the black cod in the morning at 6 AM prior to leaving with the assistance of my sous chef, Carrie.  First I wash the fillets thoroughly. I love how the skin of the fish almost matches the metallic mesh of my colander.


Saikyo Miso includes just a few ingredients.  Sugar, white miso paste (an entire container), sake (I only had unfiltered in the fridge) and mirin.

Whisk the ingredients together.

Cook, in order to dissolve the sugar crystals and burn off the alcohol from the sake.

Once cooled to room temperature, layer the fillets in between sauce.

All cod fillets should be completely covered with miso marinade.

Cover, I used aluminum foil which in my mind I still call tin foil from my childhood, closely and refrigerate for 2-3 days.

Returning home from my road trip, one day in the OC, one beautiful day and one tough day in the desert, here are the cod after three days in the fridge. It smelled rather fishy, to be honest.

Matsuhisa-San suggests wiping the miso gently from the fillets, but not rinsing. Having made miso marinated fish many times using no recipe, my methodology is to not wipe off the marinade. I love the flavor of a miso marinade, and don't find it to be texturally prohibitive. So I didn't do as told.

Cooking. First broil the fish until brown. Typically, I stop here. I have found in the past that my fish after broiling is cooked through.

However, I want to try to stay fairly true to Matsuhisa-San's techniques.  Therefore, after browning, bake in a  400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Above is the fish just prior to baking.

The end result turns out to be perfection. The baking process takes the fish from simply cooked through after broiling, to a beautiful translucent, soft, and buttery texture. Incredibly delicious. The spouse unit declares the flavor, texture and presentation are exactly alike what we have experienced at Matsuhisa in the past.  I think we should dine there again sometime soon to find out!

He handled the beverages.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Maiden Voyage with Uni Tempura Rolls

Why another blog cooking someone else's cookbook? To give a focus and drive to my own cooking, and to simultaneously feed my own lust for information about Japanese food. That's all the explanation this needs.

Above is the picture from the Nobu The Cookbook.  Sea Urchin Tempura.  It was easy.

Matsuhisa-san suggests that cutting each nori sheet into 6 thin strips, and discarding 2. Initially following instructions I found the sheets far too thin for wrapping and rolling, and as I had plenty of both uni and guests, I quartered several sheets and used them all. I love the metallic sheen sushi nori has.

 Above I practice rolling without the uni.

One beautiful tray of amazingly fresh uni from Nijiya Market on Sawtelle in West L.A.

For assemblage:  place two shiso leaves at one end of nori strip.

Scoop a generous portion of uni onto shiso leaves. I used one entire serving from the above uni tray, meaning I made exactly 10 pieces.

 Rolled as tightly as my fat not so nimble American fingers will roll. I am sure to get more practice with this in the coming months.

Uni/shiso/nori rolls.

True to form in a chef's cookbook, each recipe contains at least one other recipe within it.  This one, an extremely simple tempura batter.  One cup ice water, one cup flour and one egg.

Whisking together first the egg and ice water, I made a frothy emulsion and then slowly added the flour.

Impossible to dip an uni roll into the tempura batter and take a photo at the same time (by this time guests have arrived and I have all but lost the attention of my husband), here are a couple frying away in a small bath of boiling hot corn oil. Not realizing I was out of oil when shopping at Nijiya, I sent the spouse unit down the hill and across Sunset for vegetable oil at the liquor store. Corn oil it is.

Finished product. Similar to Matsuhisa-san's, my batter looks heavier and the uni/other ingredients ratio is larger than his.  Were I to make this again, I would use the thinner strips of nori knowing that fresh uni will hold together nicely and retain structural integrity during the cooking process.

Dipped in ponzu, they were delicious. I am selfish enough to be glad that both John and Steve fear the sea urchin. Quynh, D and I ate all of them. They were delicious.

To gove credit where credit is due, Quynh arrived with a load of shishito peppers, which she prepped.

And threw into a pan with trace amounts of the oil to blister.  They were wonderful and much more lightly prepped than the shishito we normally have when dining out. I prefer them Quynh's way, much less oil, with the capsicum flavor front and center.

For a main course, we all shared a giant pan of Diana's quinoa risotto. It was super easy, inexpensive, healthy and after many glasses of sake a great thing to munch on before falling asleep.