This was a little bit of a spur of the moment thing. When I was buying seafood for the Bouillabaisse a couple of days ago at Mutual Fish I also decided to pickup some Sake Kasu Black Cod. If you are in Seattle I really recommend this place (as any reader of this blog will know). The seafood is amazing, and the staff match it. A couple of guys normally serve me, and they are honestly the friendliest most helpful people I have ever met. As I am buying the fish, one of them is entertaining Drake by picking out live lobster and crab, and showing them to him (with Danika holding him..) Meanwhile the other guy is talking through everything new that they have in since the last visit.
Not in the mood for some rock cod or branzini (somewhat new in), I look over to see if they have any of their Kasu Black Cod. They have two tail end bits left. I prefer a much thicker cut for broiling this, so the bloke scarpers off to the back, and brings out some more – and picks out two awesome center cut pieces – that must be a couple of inches thick. When you are cooking fish over a BBQ or high-heat broiler I like to use a pretty thick cut, that has an even thickness to it – otherwise it cooks too fast, and cooks unevenly.
So what is Sake kasu black cod you ask.. Well, it is black cod that is marinated in “Sake Kasu”, which is the sediment in unfiltered Sake. This sediment gets mixed with some vinegar, miso, water, and often sugar and the fish dunked into it. If you want to have a go at making the marinade the cookbook from Ray’s Boathouse has a good simple recipe for it. It takes 24hours to marinade.
I made this marinade once. Uwajimaya in the International District sells the Kasu paste, and all the trimmings you will need to make the marinade. Personally, I go to Mutual Fish and buy some black cod already marinated now. It is quicker, easier, and tastes bloody amazing. Uwajimaya also sells black cod marinated, however their supply seems up and down, however at Mutual it is normally always there (and if not, ask for it, they might well have some out back).
The first time I ever had Sake Kasu Black cod was at Ray’s Boathouse actually. In fact, it was the first time we ever went there. I couldn’t decide what to order (so much sounded so good), and the waiter recommended this. I knew I liked black cod, so I figured I would give this a go. The sweet delicacy was just incredible. So much so Danika was rather ticked that she didn’t order it herself. Ever since I have been eating my fair share of it – so much so that before Drake was born we kinda OD’d on it, and stopped getting it for a while.
The flavor is rich. Really rich. You don’t need a lot of fish per person here. Black cod is already pretty heavy (lots of fish oils), and then you have this sweet marinade on top of that.
So what did I serve this with. Well, the Brussels and Shitake are just that, a simple stir-fry of the two. The parsnip crisps were somewhat of a whimsy. I had a parsnip staring at me when I opened the fridge (I hate it when they do that..), and figured I would try something different with it. It is just sliced really thinly using a Japanese slicer, and sauteed in a little olive oil. And finally, the reduction. This is a great flavored sauce to serve with black cod. It has a tartness which pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the fish. Just shave some garlic and ginger, and bung it in a pan with some sake and soy sauce. Sweeten it a tad with some honey if you like.
A note on cooking the black cod: A high heat broiler (infra-red) or your BBQ works great for this. I had marginal luck with this under my old oven broiler – I just never seemed to caramelize the fish that well. If you are using your BBQ, make sure it gets nice and hot, and your grate is really clean. Brush the grill with oil just before you put the fish on. Black cod is really flakey when cooked, and can break up easily if you are not careful.
Sake Kasu Black Cod, Brussels and Shitake, soy/ginger reduction, parsnip crisps
3/4lb Sake Kasu Black cod – thick cut
1 handful of brussel sprouts
1 handful of shitake mushrooms – sliced with stalks discarded (they are tough)
1 medium parsnip – sliced really thinly (paper thin)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sake
thumb sized piece of ginger – grated
1/2 garlic clove – grated
oil – I use olive, but you can use canola
Start by preping the brussels. Remove the out leaves of all sprouts, and cut off the stems. Cut these into quarters lengthwise. Turn on your oven broiler/BBQ to pre-heat.
In a small saute pan put in the garlic, ginger, soy and sake. Put your fish under the grill, flesh side to the heat. After about 5 minutes, check it out – the flesh should be browning nicely. Give it another minute or two, and flip it over, skin side to the heat. Cook it skin side for about 5 minutes. When done the fish should flake really easily with a fork.
Just after you flip the fish over, get a wok with some oil in (1/2 tablespoon) going over a high heat. Toss in the brussels, and keep them moving. Put a high heat under the soy/sake mixture, and get that boiling too. When the brussels are looking done (slightly soft, brown edges) toss in the sliced shitake mushrooms, and stir fry, moving constantly, for another couple of minutes. Don’t overcook the mushrooms.
In a separate pan (stainless steel), heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over a medium/high heat. When hot, add the parsnip slices. Make sure they don’t stick to the pan – mix well. You want these to brown, not burn, so keep an eye on the heat. When they look crisp, remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. They should take around 4 minutes maximum.
When the sauce has reduced by half, turn off the heat under it. Give it a taste, if it is too sharp, and a teaspoon of honey, mix, and taste again. Remember that the fish is going to be really sweet, so a little bit tart is a good thing.
To serve, spoon some of the sauce onto a plate, and top with the brussel/shitake mixture. Top this with the fish. Serve with the parsnip crisps and some steamed sushi rice.