Cod marinated in miso and kochujang


I have not featured many fish recipes here on Just Hungry. This is because at the moment I live in a landlocked country, where sea fish must be shipped in, and is expensive to boot. When I do buy some fish, I savor it as a treat. (I may be preparing myself for something that all fish eating people might have to endure soon, given the problems of overfishing.)

This is a classic miso marinade with a spicy twist. Instead of using just miso, I've added a little bit of kochujang, spicy Korean bean paste. I've used cod for this, but you could use any firm, flaky white fish instead - or even an oily fish such as salmon or swordfish. The pieces of fish should have a certain thickness, so thin fish like flounder won't do.

Cod marinated in miso and kochujang

  • 450g / about 1 lb cod or other fish
  • 3 Tbs. white miso
  • 1 Tbs. kochujang
  • 3 Tbs. shaoxing wine (see notes) or mirin
  • 2 Tbs. raw cane sugar or any sugar

Mix together all the ingredients except the fish until combined.

Put down a large piece of plastic. Spread the plastic with a layer of the marinate that is bigger than the surface area of the fish. Put a piece of cheesecloth or a single layer of paper towel on top of the marinade, then put the fish on top of that. Wrap the cheesecloth or paper towel around the fish, then smear more marinade on top.

Wrap the fish up in the plastic securely - you may want to double-wrap it. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least several hours, or overnight.

Peel away the plastic and paper towel or cheesecloth. Heat up a grill pan or a large frying pan, brushed with a little oil. Cook on both sides until the fish is cooked through. (The cooking time depends on the thickness of the fish.)

This will serve 4 people as part of a Japanese meal, with one or two other dishes besides rice and miso soup. It's also great in a bento.


Shaoxing wine (called sho-ko-shu in Japan) is a rice wine from the Shaoxing province of China. It has a sweet flavor like mirin, but is more assertive. You can use mirin or a sweet sherry instead, or even just plain sake.

[Edit: added for clarification] The reason why you would use paper towels or cheesecloth between the fish and the miso marinade is that the marinade is rather too salty to leave on, so it needs to removed anyway. By wrapping the fish in a porous material before applying the marinade paste, you make removal of the paste easier. You can just scrape or even lightly wash off the marinade if you want to too. This, by the way, is fairly standard for many miso or sake lees (sake kasu) marinated recipes.

You can freeze the fish while wrapped in the marinade, but if you do so, defrost it slowly in the refrigerator, not in the microwave.

The marinade can't be re-used, since it's full of fish-juice!

Filed under:  japanese lighter fish

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I'm confused as to why the paper towel or cheesecloth is needed. Is the marinade too strong? Is it so liquidly that it'll leak out otherwise?

if you leave the miso marinade on the fish, it will be a bit too salty. So the paper towel or cheesecloth is there so that it can be removed easily. An alternative is to just scrape or wash off the excess marinade before grilling.

This sounds like a delicious way to add some extra oomph to coley or pollack. Thanks for the idea!

This cod dish sounds really tasty. I am always on the lookout for new ways to use both miso and gochujang.

I make a miso glaze very similar to this for mild fish fillets. I usually use wasabi for the kick instead of gochujang, but I love that stuff and will have to give it a try!

Another reason to use the fukin between the fish and the miso is that miso burns easily, especially with high heat: broiling, grilling, or hot pan-frying.

Dear Maki
the recipe is very inviting, but can u please tell me what salmon, cod and swordfish are called in Japanese so that I can hunt for them in nearby supa.

Salmon is 'sake' or 'shake' - さけ 鮭

Cod is 'tara' - たら 鱈 タラ

Swordfish is I think 'mekajiki' - めかじき メカジキ

I've made miso-marinated cod before and love it, but this addition of kochujang sounds like a winner. Maki, do you have any recommendations for a brand of kochujang? Our Korean market has a dizzying selection of the stuff and every time I try to buy some, I get confused. DH loves spicy condiments so we have a large selection of hot sauces, pastes, powders and flakes that he uses at every meal. I, on the other hand, only like a little spicy for flavor, not heat.

Have you tried using paper towel before? I did and marinated for 7 hours, however the cod really didn't get much flavor. Perhaps it was due to the brand (Bounty) I used since it does such a terrific job soaking up liquid, I don't think it transferred the flavors well to the fish.

If you're planning to use paper towels I'd suggest to use thin cheap ones, or use a cheese cloth. I'll try a cheese cloth next time.

Hello Maki
I really like your blogs.
I could only find "red" miso -- can I use that instead of the white?