I can’t think of a more lovely, delicate, and delicious dish right now than this steamed miso cod. This tender and flakey fish is steamed in a coconut miso broth, topped with herbaceous Thai basil with an added kick of heat. Serve with rice and a generous amount of the coconut miso broth this easy and light fish dish will leave you smiling, and of course wanting more. Perfect for entertaining this one pot wonder requires only 30 minutes and minimal effort to pull together.
Let’s Talk Miso
If you know NOTHING about miso paste, I highly recommend you do a little reading before running to the supermarket and picking out the first one you see. Below is just high-level info on the most common/popular types but trust me when I say there are hundreds of great sources out there to learn more. Bon Appétit + Just One Cookbook are two great sources to start at. If you know miso, or even better already have your favorite in your fridge, move down to the ingredients section of this post. Note every miso has a technical name (ie. shiro, aka, ect…) but in western culture and recipes a lot of times it referred as the color.
- White Miso – Very mild and sweet. Good for sauces, aiolis, and dressings as well as seafood, chicken, and vegetables.
- Yellow Miso – Mild and earthy. Good for sauces, soups, and marinades.
- Red Miso – Deep umami flavor. Warning this can overwhelm a dish. Use for heartier deeper flavored dishes like heartier soups, heavier sauces (ie. a meat sauce), and braises.
- Black Miso – Strongest flavor miso.
Keep in mind, the darker the color the more intense the flavor will be. For this recipe I use a white miso with added dashi which gives it a more intense umami flavor. Check out the one I use HERE. This is my go-to miso for 80% of my dishes that call for the ingredient. If you can’t find this one I recommend you using a white or yellow miso.
What You’ll Need for Miso Cod
I have to admit, some of the ingredients below cannot be found in your local supermarket, sorry. I did provide adequate substitutions however they will alter the flavor slightly. For the full experience visit an Asian specialty market. Another option is ordering the missing ingredients online from a site like Umami Cart, if they deliver to your area.
- Cod – Cod is the preferred white fish for this dish however any mild flavor firm white fish will work. Can’t find cod? Haddock, and Pollock are great substitutes. Keep in mind you are looking for thicker cuts, approx. 1 inch.
- Miso Paste – See above for a breakdown about miso.
- Coconut Milk – Let me be clear, buy full fat unsweetened coconut milk. It won’t say full fat on the can, but avoid ones that are labeled low fat. When you open the can it should be opaque, white, and thick. I find with some brands once you dig down to a certain level it is runny and watery. Some brands are better than others. My go-to is always Thai Kitchen.
- Thai Basil -Chances are if you have never gone to an Asian specialty market then you haven’t come across Thai basil. Thai basil can be identified by its serrated edges, slightly purple stems, and a sweet yet slightly licorice-like scent. There is no mistaking Thai basil for Italian basil once you smell it.
- Substitution: No, you CAN NOT substitute Thai basil with Italian basil. Instead swap it out with cilantro. You can also order them from Umami Cart HERE.
- Thai Chilies – Warning these little buggers pack a punch. Also known as bird’s eyes chilies, these little peppers are about 10x+ hotter than a jalapeño. A little goes a long way. If you are sensitive to spice use 2-3, if you want it hotter go for 5-6. They come in both green and red, either color works for this particular dish.
- Substitution: You can order these chillies from Umami Cart HERE. Or you can sub out for chili flakes. Start with 1/4 tsp and build up from there.
- Lime– Completely optional. I found that it cuts a bit into the natural sweetness of these ingredients. Add a splash at the end after cooking to round out the dish.
- Onions– White or yellow. Don’t skimp out on the onions, they make the dish.
- Garlic– Fresh only!
- Heavy Bottom Braiser – My favorite pan to cook in is my Le Creuset braiser, however if you don’t have a similar enamel cast iron braiser this can also be made in a dutch oven or a large sauté pan.
- Parchment paper – Parchment paper, not wax paper. Wax paper is not heat resistant, and when exposed to heat will melt and burn. When I initially released the Coconut Steamed Fish, a ton of people asked me “Why use parchment?”. Cod while meaty is a relatively delicate fish. by providing a buffer, not only do you eliminate the risk of sticking, but it cooks the fish gently, eliminating burning. Also, who doesn’t love an easy cleanup?
Step by Step Miso Cod
Cut + Season the Fish – If the fish isn’t precut, on a clean cutting board with sharp knife cut the fish into 6-7oz fillets (slightly bigger than a deck of cards). Place the fish, sliced onions, and slices garlic in a large bowl. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and a heavy pinch of salt approx. 1/2 tsp. Toss thoroughly to coat.
Assemble the Pot – To a wide but shallow pot, the preferred vehicle is a braiser or a sauté pan, add 2 layers of parchment paper. Layer in a good amount of onions and garlic, followed by the fish. In a separate bowl add the miso paste and coconut milk. Pop it in the microwave for just a few seconds until the coconut milk goes from a solid to a liquid, the mixture should not be hot. Vigorously mix to incorporate the miso. Pour the miso coconut milk over the fish, followed by the Thai basil, and chilis.
Cook until Flakey – Cook the miso cod, fully covered for 15-20 minutes over low-medium heat. Check at the 15 minute point. The tops of the fish should be completely cooked and the fish should be flakey. Optional squeeze 1/2 lime over the dish to cut into the sweetness and round out the flavor. Serve over rice, check out my Vermicelli Rice if you need a great recipe, and enjoy!
I am not the biggest fan of leftover fish. This miso cod can be stored in an airtight container for MAX 1-2 days. If you have a lot of the broth left, you can reheat in a covered pot or pan on low heat. If not reheat in the microwave, checking on the temp in 1-minute intervals.
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Steamed Miso Cod
- 2 1/2 lbs cod or another firm white fish, cut in 6-7 oz pieces
- 1 large yellow or white onion cut in half then sliced
- 10 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp miso paste
- 1 cup coconut milk full fat
- 1/4 cup thai basil chopped
- 2-5 Thai chilis (birds eye chilis) sliced
- 1/2 lime optional
- Place the cut fish, sliced garlic, and sliced onions in a large bowl. Coat with 2 tbsp of olive oil, and a heavy pinch of salt, approx 1/2 tsp. Toss to coat.
- Line the pot or pan with 2 layers of parchment and lay the onions, garlic, and fish in the pan, making sure you are putting a good amount of the onions under the fish.
- In a separate bowl add the miso paste and coconut milk. Pop it in the microwave for just a few seconds until the coconut milk goes from a solid to a liquid, the mixture should not be hot. Vigorously mix to incorporate the miso. Pour miso coconut milk over the fish.
- Add cut Thai basil, and chilis and cover.
- Place the pot on the stove on low-medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until fish is cooked through and flakey. Optional squeeze 1/2 lime over the dish to cutinto the sweetness and round out the flavor. Serve over rice with broth.