Monday, February 14, 2011

2011 - A Miso Odyssey

Living within walking distance of the Spring Garden Market at 4th & Spring means that we have access to an unbelievable selection of Asian groceries and ingredients.  Not only does this grocery store have 12 kinds of bok choy and all the daikon radishes you could ever want, but the prices are well below what you would pay for similar quality meats, veg, and other groceries at the big chain grocery stores.  There is a distinct smell that hits you when you walk in thru the front doors, but after a few minutes you don't even notice it.  Hard to put your finger on, but I've smelled that same waft walking thru china town on many a summer day.  Suck it up - it's worth it for the stuff you'll find at this place.

An entire aisle of frozen dumplings - from veggie, to shrimp, even soup dumplings (although not as good as you'll get at Dim Sum Palace)!  Another aisle devoted just to noodles like real buckwheat soba where all the packaging is in Japanese and you have to do some google research to figure out how to make them.  The selection can be overwhelming at times, and don't bother asking for help.  Their English is as good as my Mandarin, so you're going to have to do your own leg work.  But it's always been worth the effort for the quality and range of items we come back with.  

On our most recent shopping trip we decided to try our hand at cooking with Miso paste. As you can guess, this is the base for miso soup, but miso is used in lots of different Japanese dishes and is extremely versatile.  It's made from soy beans and a mixture of rice, barley and/or buckwheat depending on the region and type.  This mixture is fermented with salt and a specific fungus to produce the miso paste which is then classified as red, white or mixed.  

The smallest container we could find was 1 kg, which is quite a lot more than needed for a batch of miso soup. Thus begins our odyssey to use a kilo of miso over the next few weeks before it goes south towards Shanghai. First up - Miso glazed salmon that I got from Alton Brown's miso episode he aired in 2010.  
The salmon came out terrific. I had to up the cooking time a bit since the filets the fishmonger cut me were so thick.  Alton's original recipe called for black cod or halibut, but the miso glaze was just as good on the salmon. Super simple and definitely a repeat dinner that will go in the recipe box.  

We served the fish alongside some roasted acorn squash and steamed broccoli that I sauteed with sesame oil, crushed red pepper and toasted sesame seeds.    Mmmm.


Miso Honey Glazed Fish


  • 2 tablespoons light or white miso
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 (6-ounce) black cod or halibut fillets, 3/4 to 1-inch thick


Heat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Whisk together the miso and honey in a small bowl. Lay the fish fillets in a 6 by 10-inch glass baking dish and brush with the glaze. Put the dish in the oven on the middle rack and bake until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the dish for 5 minutes before serving.

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