Some recipes take years to develop. This morning around 7:00 am, the seared black cod recipe I've been working at (off and on) since 2018 finally materialized in my cast iron skillet—with a dark crust and buttery interior. Its flavor relies in part on black sukang vinegar from the Phillipines, which is made from fermented sugar cane juice. The star anise and fresh bay leaf are optional, but highly recommended. Menu suggestion: serve alongside jasmine rice or soba noodles, cantaloupe salsa, and salad.
Black cod for breakfast is a beautiful thing. Yes, even the skin.
Seared Sukang Black Cod by Beth Short-Rhoads
1 1/4 pounds black cod, in 3-inch pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sukang iloco vinegar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 wheel star anise (optional)
1 fresh bay leaf (optional)
Place the black cod in a quart container. Gently warm the remaining ingredients in a saucepan to melt the sugar and release the spice flavors. Cool, then pour over the fish. Marinate under refrigeration at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drain the fish, reserving the marinade, and blot with a paper towel. Warm a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat and coat with a few drops of vegetable oil. When the oil is shimmering, sear the fish until a dark crust develops, about 2 minutes per side.
If your black cod is thick and not yet falling-apart tender in the middle, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Meanwhile, reduce the marinade by 25% in a saucepan. This comes in handy as a drizzling sauce, especially if you didn't have time for a long marinade. Allow the fish to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.