Japanese cuisine has developed over the past 2,000 years with strong influences from China and Korea. But it is only in the last 300-400 years that all the influences have come together to form what nowadays can be described as Japanese food culture.
The introduction of rice from Korea around 400 B.C. was most notable. Within a hundred years it became the staple food of Japan. Rice is used not only for eating, but also for making paper, wine, fuel, and building materials. Soon after the introduction of rice, soy beans and wheat were imported from China. These two ingredients became an integral part of Japanese cooking. Tea, chopsticks and a number of other important food-related items were also introduced from China which was thought to be the more civilized culture of the time.
Cooking “Japanese” is not hard, it’s just a matter of having the right ingredients (which include ingredients made from rice and soy) and enough time to do it right. You’ll love the flavors in Japanese food and you will be surprised just how simple most of the recipes are. This Valentine’s recipe is no exception—a beautiful piece of fresh fish and a little miso (soy), mirin (rice) and sake (rice). That's all there is to it. Well, not quite; we added the cocoa powder. It seems that the cocoa, when added to the miso, mirin and sake brought a new dimension to the marinade. It made for a richer, fuller-flavored entrée. It’s amazing what a little bit of cocoa can do.
1/4 cup nigori sake
1/4 cup mirin
4 tablespoons white miso paste
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Choclatique Natura Cocoa Powder, sifted
2 fresh halibut fillets, about 1/2 pound each (you can use salmon, cod or other white fish)
Chef’s Secret: We tried this recipe with several different kinds of fish. Some of us preferred halibut (as this recipe is written) while others liked salmon or cod. This will work on most pieces of fresh fish. Not all sake is created equal. Nigori sake is sweeter, unfiltered sake that lends itself well to the preparation of this dish. The more common Junmai sake is fine to use in this recipe, but the Nigori better complements the chocolate notes from the cocoa powder.