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.
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.