I want to be remembered for this recipe because it was in my first bite of this delicate fish that I realized, I can make make really kick-ass low sodium versions of almost any salty recipe and it was time to share my secrets. Not to be immodest, of course.
The evening of this recipe's creation began with a simple discussion over Nobu's famous Miso Marinated Cod. And how it was an unbeatable dish. A buttery, melt-in-your mouth dish, in fact, that is not only heart-stopping amazing but incredibly simple to make at home.
With a silky 24-hour marinade of miso paste, brown sugar, mirin, and sake, the cod only needs a handful of minutes under the broiler before it is ready to enjoy. Easy to make and stunning to look at, this is a recipe is a winner for a busy weeknight meal as well as a wow-the--pants-of-your-guests dinner party.
But there's one problem: Miso contains over 700mg of sodium per tablespoon, which - for someone with kidney failure and low sodium needs - just does not work. That's almost my entire allotment of sodium for a single day.
So I put on my Chris Kimball thinking cap (a nice fedora with a feather) and I brainstormed possible solutions. I smelled the miso paste, the fermented flavor wafting into my nose, and then, it suddenly hit me. I had smelled this smell before.
I looked over my spices, my vinegars, and other liquid concoctions, desperately seeking the miso paste's twin. And there it was. Molasses. Dark brown, viscous, and equally pungent with that familiar musky smell. This could work.
And luckily, for me and everyone out there craving miso marinated cod without the salt overload, it did. So enjoy this low sodium makeover and please, think of me when your mouth drops to the floor. —Sodium Girl
mirin (0mg sodium versions can be hard to find, but look in your local Asian market for Shirakiku brand. And if you can't find it, substitute with more sake)
1 1/4 pounds
cod or sablefish, skin on and de-boned if possible
This recipe begins the day (or two) before you plan on serving this meal as the fish needs a long soak to take on all the flavors.
So to make the marinade: put the sake, mirin, molasses, and sugar in a double boiler (i.e. a pot or bowl that sits over a larger pot with water in it), and whisk to combine. Over a medium flame, bring the water to a strong simmer, and cook the mixture - stirring occasionally - until the sugar melts and the mixture is glossy and smooth, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
While the marinade cools, cut fish into 4- 6 equal pieces (depending on number of guests) and place in a shallow dish, large enough that all of the pieces of fish lay flat.
Pour half of the cooled marinade into the dish, add the cod pieces (insert historical costume joke here), and then pour the remaining mixture on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-48 hours, turning the fish twice so that each piece gets an even coating.
The next day (or day after) when you are ready to get cooking, remove cod from the marinade and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment in a single layer. Set the oven broiler to high and place the fish on the bottom rack of the oven. Broil until the top is caramelized, about 10 minutes. Turn cod over and broil the other side, about 3 minutes more. When the fish is cooked, it should easily flake with a pull of the fork.
Seriously. That's the whole recipe. Amazing right? Now pour yourself a bevy and admire your work. Don't forget to eat it too, and serve with rice and steamed bok choy and/or a mixture of sauteed mushrooms (oyster, shimeji, trumpet, etc). Pure. Heaven.
In January of 2004, I received a diagnosis that changed my life. I was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that in my case attacked my kidneys and brain. Due to the intensity of the initial “flare up” of the disease, I became renal insufficient and eventually faced kidney failure. Amazingly, through great medicine, wonderful family and friends, and an enormous amount of support, I became stronger and healthier and miraculously, my kidneys partially regenerated. I no longer depend on dialysis and by regulating my diet, I depend on fewer medications. Five years later, I work part time and live a full and utterly enjoyable life. My dietary restrictions have transformed into a real passion for food and I hope to be able to pass along my favorite finds to others facing similar dietary challenges. Be creative, be friendly, and be full!