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Nitsuke Fish Simmered With Sake, Soy Sauce, And Sugar

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Recipe excerpted from 'Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking' by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto

Even my mother made a pretty good nitsuke— that’s how easy this dish is to cook. A familiar mixture of dashi, sake, mirin, and soy sauce infuses the fish with its flavor and turns a modest collection of ingredients into something that’s exciting and comforting at once. Because it takes only a little extra effort and adds a ton of flavor, I like to break with tradition and reduce the cooking liquid into a more intensely flavorful sauce.

Recipe excerpted with permission from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Masaharu Morimoto. Click here to purchase your own copy.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cup dashi, kombu dashi, or water
  • 1/2 Cup sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1/2 Cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 1/4-inch-thick coins peeled ginger
  • 4 4-ounce skin-on fillets fatty white-fleshed fish, such as Spanish mackerel, redfish, Chilean sea bass, or black cod
  • 1/4 Pound drained medium- firm tofu, cut into 4 equal pieces

Directions

Combine the dashi, sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and ginger in a medium skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the fish skin side up to the skillet in a single layer and cover with a wooden or foil otoshibuta. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes. The fish will be fully cooked after about 8 minutes; the longer cooking time is meant to infuse the fish with the flavor of the cooking liquid.

Remove the otoshibuta, carefully transfer the fish to a plate, and increase the heat to high to bring the liquid to a boil. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook, flipping once, until the liquid reduces slightly and its flavor intensifies, 8 to 10 minutes.

Return the fish to the skillet and continue cooking, basting constantly with a spoon, for a minute or two. Serve right away in shallow bowls with some of the cooking liquid. Or even better, remove from the heat, cover with the otoshibuta or partially with a lid, and let the fish sit for 10 to 15 minutes, so the fish absorbs even more flavor from the sauce.