A classic Japanese dish, Black Cod with Miso (or simply Miso Cod 銀だらの西京焼き), is served at many formal Japanese restaurants. These days you may have heard of the dish after it’s made famous worldwide by the acclaimed fine Japanese restaurant chain Nobu. Luckily, the miso-glazed black cod recipe is simple enough that you can enjoy this wonderfully seasoned fish at home.
Other Fish Choices besides “Black Cod”
Despite Nobu’s popular menu “Black Cod with Miso”, the fish used in this recipe is actually not related to a cod at all. “Black cod” is a common name for sablefish (銀だら 銀ダラ) or butterfish. It’s known for its silky and tender rich texture and flavor. High in omega-3 fats, it is the preferred fish choice since it doesn’t have the strong taste of fatty fish like tuna or mackerel. The creamy white flesh pairs extremely well with miso paste that is sweet, savory and salty.
If you couldn’t find sablefish, you can also use other fish to enjoy with the versatile miso marinade. I like alternating between black cod, sea bass, or salmon and my family enjoy them equally. If you go to a Japanese supermarket, you should be able to find black cod in the fresh fish section.
In the US, you can also find sustainable caught Alaskan black cod from online seafood companies. It’s rather pricey but it is still a much better deal to enjoy the fish at home than ordering at a fancy restaurant. With some simple advanced preparation, this Black Cod with Miso recipe is so easy to pull off and the results are irresistible.
If you are looking for a classic Japanese recipe for serving dinner guests, this Miso Cod will make a pretty impressive main dish. Prep it ahead, bake in the oven, and dinner is ready. Easy but no lack of elegance.
Baking vs. Broiling Fish
Although I use a broiler in my oven to cook different types of fish often, I recommend using baking for this miso cod recipe. If you have cooked ingredients with miso before, you know miso burns really easily. You can’t avoid burning miso completely; however, you can minimize the burns by baking this fish.
Here I summarized the difference in broiling and baking fish, and which type of fish is suitable for broiling or baking for your future reference.
When you broil fish, it’s placed closer to the element at the top of your oven. It’s not hot air that cooks the fish, but the infrared energy radiating from the element itself. Broiling is a much faster cooking method and fish will brown beautifully, but it burns miso, fresh herbs, and many other garnishes and requires constant attention.
When you bake fish, the heat is carried through your oven by slow-moving natural currents of hot air, which is why baking takes a relatively long time to cook. But it can be relaxing as you do not need to constantly pay attention.
Choose Based on a Kind of Fish
Fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and swordfish) can be broiled or baked at higher temperatures like a broiler, ranging from 400-450 ºF.
Moderately lean fish (such as cod and haddock) need to be brushed with oil before broiling.
Whole fish, large fillets, or lean and fragile fish (such as sole) can be baked at temperatures between 300-350 ºF to preserve their moisture and delicate texture and avoid broiling because it’ll be overcooked too fast