I’ve got builders in. Not doing anything remotely exciting or life enhancing, just sorting out some damp in the basement. Even though they are not actually working in the house and are relatively undemanding of tea, I find the whole thing of having strangers around horribly unsettling. For the past fortnight, my house has become a self-imposed prison in case they should need access to the water supply (or more likely, the loo), and I’ve only ventured out to do the school run or to buy yet more milk. I should’ve been using this time constructively – to sort out all those niggling chores – or creatively – experimenting in the kitchen or getting a few decent posts under my belt. But no, no, no, instead I drift aimlessly about the house (but only in those rooms where I can’t be seen) with a headful of dust, feeling slightly anxious about everything and achieving absolutely nothing.
So one more week (hopefully) and normal service will resume, but until then a recipe that requires very little concentration, skill or time, but tastes sophisticated enough to fool your family into believing you’ve been doing more than picking fluff out of your belly button for a fortnight.
Miso and maple roasted cod
I had this for lunch today and for a brief moment I was sitting in Nobu with a glass of chilled sake, not in a dusty kitchen, surrounded by muddy teacups with the occasional glimpse of a builder’s bum through the window.
This marinade, loosely based on one from this book I told you about a couple of week’s back, is a good one to have up your sleeve as it can be used to fancy up any kind of fish, but is also good for meat and roasted vegetables (I’m thinking aubergines or mushrooms here).
- 2 skinless, boneless cod loin fillets, about 120-150g each
- 2 tbsp brown miso paste
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp mirin
- Sesame seeds and sliced spring onions to garnish
- Bring the mirin and sake to the boil in a small pan and cook off the alcohol for about a minute. Self-medicate with small glass of sake if necessary.
- Combine mirin, sake, miso and maple syrup and whisk until smooth. Marinate fish fillets in the mixture for at least one hour but up to 48 hours covered in the fridge.
- Heat the oven to 200°C (fan). In an oven-safe frying pan, heat a little oil and when hot add the fish fillets, presentation side down and cook for about a minute until a dark brown crust has formed. Flip over and place in the oven for 6-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. If you pierce the flesh with the tip of a sharp knife and it meets no resistance, the fish is done. Scatter over sesame seeds and spring onions and I strongly recommend the following salad to accompany.
Miso and sesame shredded veg
The dressing here is inspired by a recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman.
- Whisk together 1 tbsp brown miso paste, 2 tsp tahini, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1/2 tsp grated garlic and 1 tsp sesame oil until smooth then add about a tablespoon of water to loosen.
- Use to dress your choice of shredded crunchy veg – Chinese leaf, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, red peppers, sliced sugar snaps, whatever you fancy.