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.
- 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
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.