Japanese cuisine has developed over the past 2,000 years with strong influences from China and Korea. But it is only in the last 300-400 years that all the influences have come together to form what nowadays can be described as Japanese food culture.
The introduction of rice from Korea around 400 B.C. was most notable. Within a hundred years it became the staple food of Japan. Rice is used not only for eating, but also for making paper, wine, fuel, and building materials. Soon after the introduction of rice, soy beans and wheat were imported from China. These two ingredients became an integral part of Japanese cooking. Tea, chopsticks and a number of other important food-related items were also introduced from China which was thought to be the more civilized culture of the time.
Cooking “Japanese” is not hard, it’s just a matter of having the right ingredients (which include ingredients made from rice and soy) and enough time to do it right. You’ll love the flavors in Japanese food and you will be surprised just how simple most of the recipes are. This Valentine’s recipe is no exception—a beautiful piece of fresh fish and a little miso (soy), mirin (rice) and sake (rice). That’s all there is to it. Well, not quite; we added the cocoa powder. It seems that the cocoa, when added to the miso, mirin and sake brought a new dimension to the marinade. It made for a richer, fuller-flavored entrée. It’s amazing what a little bit of cocoa can do.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Marinade Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
1/4 cup nigori sake
1/4 cup mirin
4 tablespoons white miso paste
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Choclatique Natura Cocoa Powder, sifted
2 fresh halibut fillets, about 1/2 pound each (you can use salmon, cod or other white fish)
- Combine the sake, mirin, miso, sugar and cocoa powder in a small both and whisk together.
- Place the fish filets in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them. Distribute the marinade evenly and refrigerate for no more than sixty minutes—set a timer. Try to remove as much of the air as possible before sealing the bag.
- About 20 minutes before you are going to start cooking set the oven broiler on high and your top rack about 6 to 8 inches away from the heating element.
- Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, remove the fish from the marinade and place on the baking sheet. Do not wipe too much marinade off the top of the fish.
- Place the baking sheet on the top rack and broil for 8-10 minutes or until the top of the fish starts to char. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Chef’s Secret: We tried this recipe with several different kinds of fish. Some of us preferred halibut (as this recipe is written) while others liked salmon or cod. This will work on most pieces of fresh fish. Not all sake is created equal. Nigori sake is sweeter, unfiltered sake that lends itself well to the preparation of this dish. The more common Junmai sake is fine to use in this recipe, but the Nigori better complements the chocolate notes from the cocoa powder.