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Miso marinated black cod

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Easy and quick

Miso fish - easy, flexible and always great

Miso plus alcohol plus sugar is a phenomenal way to prepare fish. You can vary the type of miso, the type of alcohol, the type of sugar and you can add additional flavorings such as ginger, garlic, green onion and toasted sesame seed oil if you wish. Proportions and ingredients are very flexible. You can cook it on the grill, stove top or in the oven.


Miso tenderizes and imparts its delicious umami to the fish. Miso is a fermented paste that can be made from a variety of things including soy beans, rice and barley. Miso is now available in many grocery stores, asian markets and Whole Foods. As a general rule, I roughly try to match the color of my miso to the protein I am marinating.  So for a white fish, I use white or yellow miso and for a pink fish like salmon, I use a medium colored miso. There is not a lot of science to this, but I like to buy my miso at asian stores. And as I don't read a lick of Japanese, I go by the only cue I have, the color. So far it has worked out. Watch for future posts as I become more miso-sophisticated.


Sugar provides balance and helps the fish caramelize. The sugar can be in the form of mirin, granulated sugar or brown sugar.


The alcohol tenderizes the fish. Most traditional recipes call for sake, but a bit of white wine will also do the trick. Some recipes also call for rice wine vinegar, which also helps tenderize.

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My introduction to miso marinated fish

I first learned about marinating fish in miso years ago when I took a cooking class from a well-known chef in Laguna Beach. The recipe was for miso marinated salmon. After tasting the fish I thought the guy was a genius. The recipe was simple, could be marinated a few days in advance and the fish always came out moist and delicious. Then I happened to read the label on my container of miso, and low and behold, almost the same recipe was printed on the container of miso! Turns out marinating fish and other proteins in miso has been done in Japan for many many years. Still, I credit the Laguna Beach chef for introducing me to this amazing Japanese cooking method.

Black cod, also known as butter fish or sable fish

Black cod is a healthy omega-3 fatty acid  rich fish that really lends itself to a miso marinade. Miso marinated black cod has gotten a lot of attention since Nobu put it on his menu as a signature dish. Don't be intimidated, you can make great fish using this easy technique. See my post on this sustainable, healthy choice fish.

Marinade for 20 minutes or for a couple days

The beauty of this recipe is that you can marinade it for a few minutes or a few days. If you have the time  and really fresh fish, let it marinade for a few days. If you don't have the time, it will still be great with 20-30 minuters in the marinade.

Gluten free

Check your miso. Most, but not all misos are gluten-free as some have barley as an ingredient.


Miso marinated black cod

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Black cod is a healthy omega-3 fatty acid rich fish that really lends itself to a miso marinade. Miso marinated black cod has gotten a lot of attention since Nobu put it on his menu as a signature dish. It’s easy, healthy and delicious!

  • Author: Something New For Dinner
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


  • 1 pound black cod fillet
  • 2 T sugar
  • 4 T white miso
  • 2 T sake or white wine
  • 2 T mirin
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 t toasted sesame seed oil


  1. Rinse your black cod and pat dry, leaving the skin in tact.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a small glass bowl that is large enough to also hold the fish. Add the fish and turn to make sure the fish is thoroughly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for 30 minutes to 3 days if your fish is very fresh.
  3. When you are ready to cook your fish, heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a sauté pan that is suitable for the stove top and the oven, heat the pan on medium high. Place the fish skin-side up in the pan and sear for a couple minutes. Flip the fish once and sear the other side. Finish the fish in the oven, cooking for 10 minutes. Fish will flake when done. Do not over cook.







  1. Susan Piazza says:

    I’m making this tonight ! Its been marinating for two days ! Soo incredible yummy and easy and Dr Weil approved for the anti inflammatory diet. I serve it with miso citrus glazed kabocha squash and Chinese long beans sauteed in sesame oil

  2. Alia says:

    Sorry, but sugar, miso and mirin are definitely NOT paleo. You might want to update your info so as to not confuse those new to the paleo diet.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Thank you Alia for the correction. This one slipped by me in the software. It is now corrected.

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