Cured fish were first developed as a means to preserve them. Before refrigeration was readily available in homes, fish were salted and dehydrated in order to provide an inexpensive source of protein through the winter in coastal regions. As with many old preservation techniques, the process of salting or curing fish has become a way to introduce new flavors and textures into an ingredient and create something truly delicious. One idea that we've been tossing around is that of coffee cured fish using cracked roasted coffee beans. The upcoming Kindai dinner seemed like the perfect opportunity to play with the idea. We discussed the idea with Scott & Joe at Elements and they were game, so we combined the coffee beans with nonfat milk powder and a beautiful Okinawan sugar that they happened to have in their pantry. It has a complex, haunting sweetness that really lingers on the palate. You can easily substitute Muscovado sugar for a similar effect. The result is striking with a rich coffee flavor at the front of the palate (choose your beans carefully because the nuances will make a real difference here), with a sweet surprisingly earthy middle palate, fading to a clean meaty salinity that highlights the flavor of the fish.
1000g loin of Cobia
Combine the first four ingredients and run them through a wide screened food mill. This keeps the coffee in large enough particles so that it does not overpower the fish while also blending it with the other ingredients. We spoon the cure generously on a sheet of plastic wrap, place the fish on top and then sprinkle the rest of the cure on top. Wrap the fish in plastic wrap and then vacuum seal the fish in its cure. This expedites the curing process and allows for a uniform infusion. Leave the fish in the refrigerator for 18 hours, unwrap it, and rinse off the cure. Pat the fish dry and either wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate the fish or slice it and serve it immediately.