Monday, January 4, 2010

top chef experiment: take three (dashi with miso cured cod)

I think the name of  this dish is a bit misleading. However, to list all of the starring components in the title might cause you to faint from hunger before you even get through reading it.

This is one of those special dishes where, to quote the great Tom Colicchio (and other random, lesser notables), "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Bites of each ingredient on its own are tasty in their own right. But a single bite including a taste of each component part makes the dish a whole other thing; an experience unto itself.

Yes, I'm gushing. 

But the thing is, I'm in awe of someone who can take all these separate ingredients and make them work not just as a harmonious whole but also showcase each ingredient independently of the rest.

I'm gonna go ahead and guess that that's part of what made Michael Voltaggio the winner of Top Chef this season.

So, about the dish...

I know it seems a bit summery for, well, the dead of winter but it was just what I was looking for after all the holiday heaviness. Refreshing and light.

An important note, I used Atlantic Cod, not Black Cod as in the original.

Did you know that Black Cod isn't even really Cod, it's sablefish? 

No? Neither did I.

"Knowing is half the battle."
                        G.I. Joe (Real American Hero)

I am very aware of the issues of sustainability and over-fishing of this fish. In fact that's partly why I chose to use it and not Black Cod.

I'm a Newfie (half-Newfie anyways) and my family in Newfoundland was greatly affected by the moratorium placed on the cod fishery by the Canadian government 15 years ago. 

Atlantic Cod is part of my heritage, and I wanted to give it a moment in the culinary spotlight (however faint the spotlight of this blog might be.)

There is some good news for the Atlantic Cod. It is being successfully farmed and wild Cod stocks have recovered to the point where limited fishing is being once again allowed off the coast of Newfoundland.

Proof cod fishing has re-opened? We have a freezer full of the stuff, brought back from my Dad's trip "down home" this past summer.

But now back to Michael Voltaggio and his delicious creation.

It's been a while since I cooked anything Asian inspired. I almost forgot how much I love it. 

Each ingredient was so vibrant but so balanced. All the bright citrus contrasted with the earthiness of the dashi broth and the delicate cod.

And then there was the watermelon. That was the most surprising part of the dish for me. I wasn't totally sure how watermelon would fit in with citrus, fish and Asian flavours. But the watermelon really tied everything together. 

So amazing!

There was a lot of prep for this dish (my arm hurt from zesting) but the actual cooking was totally simple.

And so good! Did I mention it was good?

Here's the recipe:

Dashi with Miso Cured Cod
(adapted from Michael Voltaggio)

1 lb. fillet cod
1 cup miso paste
1/4 cup mirin
1//4 cup tamari soy sauce
5 sheets kombu
3 cups water
1 cup bonito flakes
2 cups shitake mushrooms (sliced very thinly)
1 tbsp. grated ginger
3 oranges (zest and juice)
3 lemons (zest and juice)
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 roma tomatoes (peeled and sliced thinly)
1 bunch green onions (green parts only) sliced thin
1/4 large seedless watermelon 
1 lime (zest and juice)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Mix miso, mirin, and tamari soy sauce together.
Spread on sheet tray.
Place fish on tray flesh side down.
Marinate for an hour.
Place kombu in pot with 3 cups water.
Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
Add bonito flakes.
Steep mixture for 3 minutes.
Place sliced shitakes in a bowl and pour steeped kombu mixture through a strainer and over the mushrooms.
Add ginger and allow to come to room temp.
Chill mixture over ice bath.
Add orange, lemon and lime zest and juices, tomatoes, green onions and soy sauce.
Cut watermelon into 2 inch thick rectangles and marinate in lime zest, juice and olive oil.
Remove fish from marinade.
Wipe off excess cure and Pat dry thoroughly with paper towel.
Cut into serving sized portions and slowly sear in a pan with oil (skin side down.)
Sear until skin is crispy then flip and finish cooking.
Allow fish to rest.

Place marinated watermelon in bowl and spoon in dashi broth.
Place fish on top.
Garnish with green onion.


Sook said...

Wow, i love cod and miso and dashi. so this must be great! The picture looks so beautiful too. I'm hungry and i think I might faint now. :)

Jamie Dougherty said...

OMG!! This looks ridiculous. I'm all over this.

Tasty Trix said...

Very impressive!!! Was this the one he made for the outdoor cook-over-the-fire challenge? Not that I'm obsessed with that show or anything. (Btw, do you watch Last Restaurant Standing on BBC? Addicting.)

Vegetable Matter said...

You aced the look AND the flavor. Well done!

Anonymous said...

This looks amazing! Wow!

Emily Ziegler said...

All around amazing. Fantastic.

Anonymous said...

*raises hand in embarassment* So, what's dashi?

Laura said...

Wow that just looks freakin awesome. I dont know that I would have been brave enough to try making this but just may have to dive in after seeing it! Thank you for sending me food courage from the great white north :)

The Chickenless Chick said...

Lovely pics! And very happy side note about the cod re-emerging.

Mae said...

Seriously beautiful post. I love the richness of the cod paired with a good light prep.

Hope the zesting arm is recovering nicely. :)

dokuzuncubulut said...

Beautiful presentation. What a pretty dish!

Lori Lynn said...

Watermelon? Fantastic!

denise, the prime magpie said...

This looks so flavorful and amazing. Both rich and light -- perfect balance of so many flavors. And beautiful, to boot! Almost too pretty to eat... almost. ;) haha, love the G.I. Joe reference, too!

Anonymous said...

Oh my that looks sooo good,


Anonymous said...

Oh thank you for sharing. I have wanted to try this dish since I saw it on the show.

Polka_Roo said...

Oh my... how delicious does that look? I doubt I'll be able to get fresh cod like yours, but I think it would be quite nice with something like monkfish or hake.
It's wonderful to hear that the Canadian cod fisheries might be making a comeback soon - salt cod was such a big part of my family's traditional Portuguese cooking, and I miss it dearly.

Jenn said...

chefyourself - dashi is the name of the seaweed/bonito flake broth.

Jenn said...

trix - obsession with food porn is perfectly healthy, or at least that's what I keep telling myself.
Now what's this Last Restaurant Standing business? No BBC on my telly :(

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