A Black Cod by any other name is… a Sablefish

… or a Candlefish, Coalfish, Bluefish or perhaps the most descriptive, a Butterfish. So many names for one tasty fish! Black Cod has to be one of the simplest fish to prepare and still turn out restaurant-worthy. Chubby Hubby’s blog first enlightened me to the ease of making a mind-blowingly delicious miso cod recipe. The moist, delicate flakes of the fish simply slide apart, somehow maintaining the perfect balance between smooth and firm. Paired with a slightly sweet, slightly tart marinade, and ah… excuse me for a moment while I wipe the drool from my keyboard.

After a successful attempt at CH’s recipe, I decided to try my own hand and fruit it up a bit. Red currants have recently made an appearance at the farmer’s markets around here, and the simple sweet tartness of the little red berries seemed a great match with the creaminess of the fish. Not overpoweringly berry, just a little extra something in the soy/ginger/sake marinade.

I paired the fish with another market find – fresh fava beans, pur?ɬ©ed and mixed into a sake-infused risotto. The risotto was rich and thick, with a bit of extra sweetness (from the sake) and a whole lot of green from the favas. This is not a risotto for those who do not love the flavor of fava beans… each bite is thick with their nutty flavor.

Red Current Black Cod
Black Cod
Red Currants
Soy Sauce
Grated ginger

Rinse the cod, and place in a large ziplock bag. Add some sake, mirin and soy in about equal parts, enough to cover fill the bag about 1/3 of the way when held upright. Add the grated ginger (1 to 2 teaspoons). Throw in the red currents whole (stems are ok). Zip up the bag, getting out as much of the air as possible. Lightly burst the currents through the bag by pressing on them. Then carefully shake the bag to mix up the whole concoction. Place the bag in the refrigerator, and marinate at least 2 hours or overnight.

To cook, preheat the oven to 400F. Place in an oven proof baking dish with sides, skin side up, and pour about a 1/4 inch of the marinade into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, broil for about a minute or two on high to crisp up the skin. The fish will be very tender at this point, so be sure to use a wide spatula to remove it from the pan.

Fava Bean Risotto
(recipe adapted from AllRecipes)
Serves 2 as a side

1/2 pound fresh, freshly shelled fava beans
3 cups stock (fish, chicken or veg)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 t crushed garlic
2 or 3 large Chard leaves, loosely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup sake
salt to taste

To prepare the fava beans, boil in salted water for about 5 minutes, and drain and immediately blanch in ice water. Set stand for a couple of minutes, and then remove meat from the tough outer skin by gently squeezing. (If you are using frozen fava beans, you can skip this step.)

Set aside about 1/4 of the beans. Puree the remainder of the beans until they are a smooth paste. Set aside.

Heat the stock, and keep it warm until needed.

In a medium high-sided skillet (or wok), add the onions, garlic and 1 T of the butter, and cook over low heat until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, and stir for about 2 minutes. Then, increase the heat to medium-high and add the sake, a little at a time, stirring constantly until it is absorbed. Add 1/4 cup of the stock and stir. When it is absorbed, add another 1/4 cup. Continue adding the stock in small quantities, allowing the rice to soak it up between each addition. When you get down to about 1 cup remaining, start checking the texture of the rice. Keep adding until the rice is still just a little firm, but has no hint of crunch.

Reduce heat to low, and stir in the chard, the fava bean paste and the remaining butter. Gently fold until the fava bean puree has been well distributed and the chard has softened. Add a bit more stock if it seems too dry. Stir in the remaining fava beans, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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