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Monday, February 27, 2012

A Visit to Nobu with Dad - Asian Style Miso Cod

Around 1996, my dad and I dined at the famous Japanese restaurant, Nobu, in NYC's TriBeCa. Back then, it wasn't common practice for me to visit upscale restaurants. I was still a teenager and this was a big event for me, one prompted by the fact that Dad had received a gift certificate there from my brother and sister in law. To my delight, he chose to take me as his dinner guest, his little sushi fiend.

Nobu, NY - Photo Courtesy of Nobu Restaurants

Earlier that year, he had also introduced me to the wonder that is sushi. On weekends, during my visits to his house in New Jersey, our ritual was to hit the Asian supermarket in Edgewater and come back with trays and trays of takeout sushi. I got hooked. Like me, Dad was also someone who relished a good nap, so the best part about our weekly sushi binges was that afterwards, we'd both fall into what we called a "sushi coma" on the couches in front of the TV. Those were good times.

Overall, Dad and I shared a lot of the same traits with regard to food. He was the type that would become fixated with one food item and eat it every day for several months. The subjects of his obsessions ranged from things as simple as Dannon Coffee Yogurt and Del Monte "Very Cherry" Fruit Salad, to Alaskan King Crab Legs that he'd buy by the pound from Costco. 

The guy knew how to live it up and eat well, and he did everything to the max.

If you ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you I go through the same sort of food jags. Currently it's Guy and Gallard's Chicken and Dumpling Soup for lunch. In college, I ate a toasted bagel with one slice of melted cheese, a tomato, and hot sauce. This was my favorite lunch for four years running.  In high school, the subject of my desire for a solid year was a slice cheese cake from our cafeteria. Astonishingly, I gained not one pound from this everyday indulgence, though I can't look at cheese cake to this day. Cheers to teenage metabolism, I guess! Those days too, are long gone.

Naturally, when our big night at Nobu rolled around, I was a totally fixated on ordering sushi and had zero interest in anything else they served. In my single minded quest, I nearly missed one of the best things they offered on their menu - the Miso Glazed Black Cod. On the waiter's recommendation, my dad requested it. Black Cod, unlike other cod varieties, is truly the Cadillac of fish. It has a luscious, buttery texture and a delicate flavor. With a little nudge of the fork, it flakes off easily into silky, perfectly symmetrical segments. It's a beautiful fish that should be eaten slowly and thoughtfully. Miso pairs with it naturally. 

Once Dad's cod arrived, I still turned up my nose when he offered me a bite, but when I finally agreed to taste it, boy was I glad. Now that I cook regularly, I thought it might be nice to find a Miso Cod recipe in order to recreate this special memory. While the authentic Nobu recipe is available online HERE. The recipe I ultimately adapted is from Food.Com and tastes the same. I find it easier too, though they don't differ all that much.

The recipe I've provided below is worthy of food addiction. Though black cod comes with a steep price tag, this dish is totally worth it. It's also easy enough for a weeknight dinner (both the main course and the vegetable side can be made in under a half hour, not counting five minutes to prepare the cod marinade the night before), but because it is so tasty and elegant, it's also a great dinner party choice. 

Dad passed away in 2005 and I miss him every day. Yet, I feel blessed that I have lots of great memories to draw on, and enumerable traits in myself that remind me of him. Do enjoy this easy and tasty version of the Nobu classic (and the suggested veggie side), and I hope that you too have great memories of family and food.

Sauteed Scallions, Shitake Mushrooms and Asparagus 
Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 Lb Fresh Shitake Mushrooms, stems removed
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Lb of Asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2 inch pieces
2 bunches Scallions, sliced diagonally into 2 inch pieces 
1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar

Shitake Mushroom, Scallions, Asparagus, Photo: NK
 
Method:
Slice the mushrooms thinly.
In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat.
Add mushrooms and cook, tossing frequently, until browned. About 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil 3 Cups of Salted Water in a small saucepan.
Add Asparagus and cook for about 3 minutes until crisp yet tender. Drain.
To Mushrooms, add Asparagus and Scallions. 
Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
Cook, tossing frequently, until pan is dry and scallions have wilted. About 2 minutes.
Add vinegar and serve immediately. 

Asian Style Miso Black Cod
Recipe Adapted from Food.com's "Chef at Large"
Serves 4

Ingredients:
24 ounces of Black Cod (4 Six-Ounce Steaks)
1/2 Cup White Miso Paste (available at Asian Supermarkets) 
1/4 Cup Mirin (Asian Seasoned Cooking Wine) 
1/4 Cup Sake (If you don't have Sake on hand, a dash of any clear alcohol works)
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
 
Method:
The Day Before: 
Combine Miso, Mirin, Sake, Soy and Maple Syrup in a small pot over low heat.
Mix ingredients until smooth and incorporated, about 5 minutes.
Let the mixture cool and pour it over the cod in a container to marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours or more.

The Day Of:
Set oven racks in the middle of the oven and one in the broiler position.
Preheat oven to 450.
Remove fish from the marinade and scrape off as much as you can.
Place fish on the middle rack on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
Turn on broiler and move fish to broiler position.
Broil another 2-3 minutes so that the top browns and glazes a bit.
Remove and serve immediately with a bit of rice and optional pickled ginger.


Miso Glazed Black Cod with Scallion, Asparagus and Shitake Saute, Photo: NK

Enjoy! 

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