January slump + not-our-recipe miso black cod

Don't mess with perfection.

Hello and happy Thursday! Thank you for opening this email! 

The holidays are over, the Election is over, it’s all over. It’s back to being a regular old mind-numbing, terrifying pandemic, and it’s hard to find something to look forward to these days. The prospect of a three-day weekend used to pull me (Anna, hi!) through January. But now, a Friday off feels ever so slightly (or massively) less exciting. Nowadays, all that really changes on days off is that I don’t put on a work shirt over my pajama pants. Still not traveling, still not seeing friends or family. Doesn’t feel like a huge amount to look forward to. 

Here’s what I do to help: I plan my food. On weekends, I spend time looking through all of the recipes I have saved on my phone and computer and I write out a list of what I’ll make each night of the week for the next 10 days or so. Some nights, I’ll plan on something quick, while other nights I plan on something a bit more elaborate. Friday nights, I go all out. It’s wild. 

What I love about this new habit of mine (besides the fact that it allows me to make very specific shopping lists so I don’t waste food and I don’t have to figure out getting groceries more than once every two weeks or so) is that I have things to look forward to! When the days are feeling monotonous and there doesn’t feel like there is anything that’s both safe and fun to do, I can look over my list and feel genuine excitement for the beautiful roast chicken I’m making on Thursday that will make my house smell incredible or the shrimp tacos I get to have on Saturday since it’ll be warm and we’ll want to use the grill. 

I get that not everyone might feel like they have time to plan every single meal out (and let’s be honest, there is at least one night a week where I end up saying “Fuck it, let’s make this tomorrow and order a pizza.”). But, if you have the time and energy to even plan yourself one Friday night blow out meal per week to look forward to, I couldn’t recommend it more. Disclaimer: A blow out meal for me is as many times a main, two sides, and a dessert as it is my absolute favorite pasta recipe eaten out of the pot. Whatever gets you excited. Just plan it, write it down, look at the recipe all week, build anticipation, and repeat. 

Now that you’ve all decided to jump aboard the planning train, we have a perfect recipe to get you started. This specific one for Miso Black Cod (that we did not write) is one of our absolute favorites, though it takes a bit of forethought. Once it’s time to cook, the recipe comes together incredibly quickly, but you’ll need to marinate the cod in miso for at least two days before you broil it. If you’re anything like me, you might not be the biggest fan (or fan at all) of black cod. Or at least I thought I wasn’t until I tried this one. 

Not-our-recipe miso black cod

There’s an excellent chance that you’ve encountered this dish — made famous in the U.S. by Nobu — at all kinds of Japanese restaurants. Our friends at Shibumi here in LA make a great one, too. This Japanese method of cooking the fish removes the sometimes unpleasantly fishy/bitter taste of black cod, but benefits from the texture and fat content of the flesh. 

Japanese cuisine often relies on the alcohol in sake and mirin as a means to extract unwanted flavors and odors from fish, as well as salting heavily beforehand to draw out excess moisture. And all you have to do is keep it in the fridge for two to three days in a simple marinade. What you’re left with is a silky, sweet, tangy, perfectly-cooked piece of fish that pairs beautifully with some warm white rice and cool, crunchy pickled cabbage. We eat it for breakfast, but it’s as delicious for lunch or dinner. 

You can find Namiko Hirasawa Chen’s recipe here — we didn’t make any adjustments because it’s perfect as is! As much as we love sharing ideas for food that we create, it’s equally as fun to pass along the tried and true recipes that we keep coming back to and also have nothing to do with. 

Like I said, we serve this with pickled cabbage and rice. All credit on this cabbage recipe goes to Sonoko Sakai, and you can and should buy her book Japanese Home Cooking on her website.

Quick shio koji-cured napa cabbage

Ingredients
1 1x2 inch piece of kombu
1 pound Napa cabbage
, sliced crosswise into 2-inch pieces
2 to 2 ½ tablespoons shio koji
1 teaspoon lemon, yuzu, or sudachi zest
1 Japanese chile
, seeded and thinly sliced (We didn’t have this, so we substituted ½ teaspoon ichimi togarashi. You can use ½ teaspoon red chile flakes.)

Directions

  1. Soak the kombu in one cup of water for one hour or up to overnight. Strain the kombu dashi, reserving it for other uses (email us if you want suggestions!). Save the kombu.

  2. Cut the kombu into matchsticks. Set aside.

  3. Rub the cabbage with the shio koji. Mix in the lemon zest, chile, and kombu pieces.

  4. Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for one hour or up to overnight, then squeeze out the excess brine. The pickled cabbage will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days.

If you make a recipe from our newsletter, please tag us in pictures! You can find us on instagram at @littlefish_echopark. If you’re in LA, our next fish fry is Sunday, 1/31.

Love,
Little Fish