Miso Paste May Be Used For One of My Family’s Favorites: Miso-Glazed Black Cod

When most people hear of miso, they think of the brothy iconic soup served at nearly every Japanese restaurant. Miso paste is the primary umami-rich ingredient used to make the infamous Japanese soup, but is also used in many other flavorful Japanese dishes.

Miso Soup

Miso is fermented soybean paste, a traditional Japanese seasoning dating back hundreds of years. It is extremely versatile and is truly an indispensable ingredient for marinades, dressings, soup bases and seasoning for all kinds of meat and vegetables. Salty in taste and buttery in texture, miso is high in protein and nutritional value.  In fact, it’s an enzyme-rich product loaded with beneficial microorganisms which is especially important for those eating a vegan diet.

Just like wine and cheese making, the making of miso is very complex and, in Japan, is held as a high art. This integral seasoning paste is produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans in wooden casks with salt and a fungus called koji. By varying the type of koji, miso manufacturers can create a wide range of pastes, from light and sweet to dark and robust.

White Miso Paste (Photo: Farina's Asian Pantry App Glossary)

The two types of miso pastes that are available in most supermarkets are “white miso” (also known as shiro miso) and “red miso”, which is called akamiso. Shiro miso, tan in color with a sweet and salty flavor, is great for sauces, dressings and marinades for seafood and vegetables. Akamiso, rust colored and more robust in flavor, lends itself to be an excellent marinade for poultry and meats … as well as a rich seasoning for braised dishes. Once opened, miso pastes can last for at least several months in the fridge.

One of my family’s favorite dishes is miso-glazed cod. I use miso paste to marinate cod (or salmon) so, when broiled, the sugar in the miso gives the fish an amazing sweet yet savory caramel flavor. This recipe is so simple and perfect with a piping bowl of brown rice and quickly stir-fried baby greens.

Miso-Glazed Cod (Photo: Farina's Asian Pantry App)

Miso-Glazed Black Cod, Japan (Makes 4 servings)

4 (6 oz) black cod, sea bass or salmon filets, 1 ½ to 2 inches thick
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons sake
1/3 cup miso paste, shiro miso
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 bunches baby bok choy, quartered length-wise

1/4 cup pickled ginger, squeezed of liquid and thinly sliced

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the mirin, sake and boil until the alcohol evaporates, 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the miso paste until it dissolves completely. Stir in the sugar and simmer until the sugar dissolves, 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the marinade to room temperature.

Place the black cod filets and marinade in a sealable plastic bag and rub the marinade on both sides of the fish. Refrigerate the fish for 24 hours or at least 3 hours.

Remove the filets from the marinade, lightly wipe the excess marinade from the black cod. Over medium-high heat, pan-sear the fish until crisp and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip the filet and cook on the other side until brown. If necessary, for thicker pieces of fish, finish roasting in a 400ºF oven until the fish is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

In a medium pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the bok choy until golden and slightly wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt to taste. To serve, transfer the filets and bok choy to a warmed platter, garnish with sliced pickled ginger and serve immediately.