Gastronomixs

Black cod, aubergine puree, crispy rice paper, sazae demi-glace

Niki Nakayama is a chef and the owner of n/naka restaurant in Los Angeles. She specializes in modern Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Nakayama was born in Los Angeles and was introduced to the finer details of this cuisine as a child by her Japanese parents. When she finished her culinary education she decided to travel through Japan where she worked in different restaurants. Here she expanded her knowledge about the essence of Japanese cuisine. When she returned to the United States, she opened her own sushi restaurant employing only female kitchen staff. She eventually opened n/naka in Los Angeles where she works with her partner and sous-chef Carole.

At n/naka Nakayama serves a multi-course Japanese menu called kaiseki which prides itself on seasonal products. The best preparation methods are applied to each ingredient. Nakayama also uses several herbs and vegetables from her own garden. In her thirteen-course menu she varies with techniques: a raw dish will be followed by a grilled dish, then a steamed dish, and then a deep-fried dish for example. She also alternates between light and heavy dishes. Nakayama is often faced with prejudice as a female chef. She even had a customer walk out of her restaurant after seeing a female chef. He believed that a Japanese restaurant with a female chef could never be any good. Because of this type of prejudice, Nakayama decided to work in a closed kitchen, so that her guests focus on the food instead on the person preparing it.  

Creation by Niki Nakayama, n/naka restaurant, Los Angeles. 

Black cod, aubergine puree, crispy rice paper, sazae demi-glace

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Ingredients

 

 

black cod

2

parts

water

1

part

sake

1

part

mirin

500

ml

sazae braising broth

125

g

mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery)

2

tbsp

tomato paste

2

 

Japanese aubergines

250

ml

dashi

30

ml

mirin

60

ml

light soya sauce

2

sheets

dry rice paper

Preparation method: sazae demi-glace
  • Using the sazae braising liquid to make a demi-glace sauce.
  • Cook, simmer, and bring out the flavours. Strain and season to taste.
Preparation method: aubergine puree
  • Mix together the dashi, mirin, and soya sauce.
  • Fry the aubergine until cooked through
  • Place into blender and slowly drizzle in the dashi/soya/mirin mix to create a thick puree
Preparation method: crispy rice paper
  • Cut the rice paper into small triangles.
  • Fry in hot oil heated to 200°C and then place on paper towel.
Preparation method: marinated black cod
  • Cut the black cod into 60g cubes.
  • Mix the water, sake, and mirin for the marinade.
  • Place the cod into the marinade for ten minutes
  • Remove the cod from the marinade and pat dry.
  • In a pot of oil heated to 65°C, slowly poach the black cod until cooked to medium.
  • Dry on a paper towel and place over a hot binchō-tan coal grill or charcoal grill. Cook until just done.
Finishing and presentation
  • Remove the cod from grill.
  • Place a small spoonful of aubergine puree on the top of the black cod, cover it with crispy rice paper, and serve with the demi-glace sauce.

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