I’m lucky to have some very good fishmongers in my part of the world, including Chris Wightman from Maximus Sustainable Fishing. That’s him on the right in the photo, with Mike Warner from East Coast Avocet, at Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival. You can’t tell from my picture but they won Best Stand, a tremendous accolade given the number and quality of producers attending.
Chris normally works out of premises at Suffolk’s Friday Street Farm Shop, where he also has a smokehouse (his award-winning coffee-smoked salmon is now available online). With a brother who is both a fisherman and a wholesaler, and with deep family ties to the industry, Chris has access to some superb seafood.
I was in his shop the other day looking for cod, as you do. Chris, who’s always happy to advise on the day’s best buys, suggested cod cheeks, cheaper but just as good as premium cod loin. These plump, juicy cushions were perfect for what I had in mind. If you can’t source them, try fresh, firm cod loin and cut it into large bite-sized chunks.
Vary the type and quantity of veg if you like but not so much that the cod gets lost in the tangle. If you can’t get good fresh fish, try using chicken mini fillets, free range if possible, and cook them for a minute or two longer.
Sesame-crusted Miso Cod
500g cod cheeks
4 or 5 tbsp sesame seeds, a mix of black and white if possible
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
For the marinade:
2 tbsp miso (white miso is best)
1 tbsp mirin
1 tspn honey
1 tspn sesame oil
1 heaped tspn grated ginger
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium-hot chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
Zest of 1 lime, juice of 1/2
For the noodles:
A portion of medium egg noodles per person
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil + 1 tspn toasted sesame oil
2 courgettes, chopped
2 shallots, peeled and sliced into the thinnest half moons
2 tbsp of the mixed marinade
A good splash of soy sauce
Finely sliced red chilli and sprigs of coriander, to garnish
Wedges of lime, to serve
Trim the cod cheeks, if using, so you have neat medallions, discarding any membrane and keeping the scraps for fish cakes or fish pie.
Mix the marinade ingredients together, spooning off two tablespoons to add to the noodles later. Add the cod to the remainder, stir to coat the fish thoroughly and set aside to marinate for one hour, no more.
Chop the courgette and shallots. Heat the olive oil with a little sesame oil in a pan and fry the vegetables in a deep-sided frying pan on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are cooked but the courgettes still have bite. Leave in the pan for later.
Spread the sesame seeds on a large flat plate and dip the pieces of cod into the seeds so both sides are lightly coated. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and cook the cod cheeks on a medium to high heat for about a minute per side.
Put the pan with the vegetables back on the stove, drain the noodles and stir in. Stir fry quickly until the noodles are hot, then loosen the reserved marinade with a good splash of soy sauce and mix it through.
Check the seasoning, pile the noodles into bowls and sit the sesame-crusted cod on top. Scatter with chopped chilli and fresh herbs and serve with wedges of lime.