Black cod and eggplant are both assertive foods that can stand up to the heat of broiling and the strong flavors of miso and apple syrup (see above on the next page). I used the Hearty Brown Rice Miso from South River Miso for this recipe, but try it with whatever miso you have on hand. Begin this dish a day in advance so the fish can marinate.
For the marinade:
¼ cup mirin (rice wine) or white wine
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari (fermented Japanese soy sauce)
2 tablespoons miso
¼ cup apple syrup
1½ pounds black cod (aka butterfish or sablefish) fillets
1½ pounds Japanese eggplant, cut each in half lengthwise
Olive oil (plenty!)
Sea salt to taste
To marinate the fish: Combine the mirin or white wine in a small saucepan with the vinegar and the tamari, then bring to a boil. Place the miso in a bowl and whisk the hot mirin mixture into the miso. Then whisk in the apple syrup. Remove 1/3 cup of this marinade to a jar and refrigerate. Pour the remaining marinade into a flat-bottomed glass or ceramic baking dish that will hold the fish snugly. Put the fish into the marinade, skin side up, and cover. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.
To prepare the eggplant: Pour olive oil to ¼ inch deep in a cast iron or stainless steel sauté pan and heat over a medium flame. Working in batches, sauté the eggplant halves, skin side up, in the oil until golden brown, then flip and brown on the other side. (The broiling phase will not cook it much further, so make sure the eggplant is tender enough to eat.)
To prepare the dish: Find a large cast iron pan, casserole, or baking sheet that fits into your broiler. Pre-heat your broiler and put the dish into the oven for a few minutes to get it hot. Place the marinated fish, skin side down, in the center of the dish, then arrange the eggplant around it. Brush the eggplant with the reserved marinade.
Place the entire pan of fish and eggplant under the broiler and cook until the fish is done all the way through. Depending on your broiler and thickness of the fish, this could take anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes. You will need to watch it carefully as it will burn suddenly, and you may want to rotate the pan after a few minutes. If you find the eggplant is getting too dark but the fish is undercooked, finish the dish in the oven instead of under the broiler. When the fish has opened up and browned slightly, it should be ready to serve. If the piece of fish is very thick, you should cut into it with a knife to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.
Any leftover marinade from the fish can be brought to a simmer and served on the side as a sauce, which is especially nice if you are serving with rice.