Tetsuya Akikawa’s Saikyo Miso from Zenkichi


Zenkichi, that labyrinthine Japanese brasserie in Williamsburg, is still struggling to get approval for a liquor license for a second location on the Bowery. It has even urged patrons to send letters to the community board voicing their support of a Manhattan branch. Whether it will succeed remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Chef Tetsuya Akikawa shares his recipe for Saikyo Miso Cod, a grilled black cod in Kyoto miso marinade, one of Zenkichi’s most popular dishes.

The naturally sweet yellowish miso, lower in salt than other types, was traditionally made in the Kyoto Prefecture. According to Akikawa, the intensity of the flavor can be dialed up or down, depending on one’s tastes.

“Some people find the lightly marinated cod more pleasing, where the flavor is mild and the fish is supple,” he says. “Others, including myself, like it very marinated, when fish becomes denser and the flavor is strong with a hint of acidity.”

Saikyo Miso Cod

For the cod fillets:

2-3 2-oz pieces of Black Cod per person
sea salt, to taste

Lightly sprinkle sea salt on fillets of black cod (other fatty fish would work as well), and place in a sealed container in the refrigerator to cure for six hours or overnight. Depending on how long you refrigerate them, you can adjust how much salt to use.

For the marinade:
(Yield: for 12 pieces or 4-6 servings)

2 tbsp Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking sake)
2 tbsp sake
1 tbsp sugar (preferably Japanese sugar)
scant tbsp soy sauce
9.5 oz Saikyo miso (found in Japanese food stores)

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, incorporating well.

To assemble:

Remove the fillets from the refrigerator and pat them dry. Cover each fillet in the marinade, and seal tightly in a container. Refrigerate for one or two days, depending on whether you like your cod supple and light, or if you want the seasoning to reach the middle. (If you’re in a rush, you can also knead the fish a bit in the middle.)

Remove the fillets and quickly rinse the marinade. Pat dry, and grill the fish over high heat, each side for four minutes. You can also broil them in an oven or toaster oven. The fish will release oil as it’s cooked, so using a drip-tray is a good idea.

At Zenkichi, the cod is served with pickled daikon, but you might like to lay it on a bed of rice at home.

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