Top left: the ingredients for miso salmon are, from left to right, sesame oil, soy sauce, unseasoned rice vinegar, aji-mirin, fresh ginger, green onion, and yellow miso; top right: the miso salmon that makes an appearance all the time at dinnertime at our house
When there's fresh salmon available from my fish guy, I always call up the hubby and ask him how he'd like me to cook it, even though I already know the answer. The man simply cannot resist miso-marinated salmon, and he asks me for it all the time.
I've made salmon for the hubby and me a variety of ways over the years, whether it's with pineapple salsa, or en papillote, or grilled with chopped fennel and orange slices. But despite my attempts to introduce a little variety into our salmon, the hubby never wavers: miso marinated, all the way. I like it too, because I find that other Asian-style preparations of salmon rely too heavily on soy sauce, which heightens the fishy taste of salmon all the more. Miso is sweet and salty, and combined with sesame oil, aji-mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine), the salmon takes on a sweetness, with a crispy outer layer. I like to think of miso-marinated salmon almost as the candy version of salmon.
Making miso-glazed salmon requires a few ingredients that I never otherwise use for any other dish, but luckily, these ingredients last for months. Invest in a bottle of aji-mirin, sesame oil and miso, and you'll be able to make this dish over and over again (or, if you're like me, almost every week).*
Miso Marinated Salmon
1.5 to 2 pounds fresh salmon (leave it as a single large filet, or cut it down into 4 single serving, 8-ounce filets, but be prepared to reduce your cooking time)
1/4 cup yellow or white miso
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon light soy sauce (optional: use low-sodium soy sauce)
1 green onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh young ginger, minced (young ginger is widely available in Southeast Asia; in the U.S., regular ginger works just fine)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Rinse salmon and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. In a glass baking dish, whisk together all ingredients except for the salmon. Place salmon filet(s), skin side up, in baking dish. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least one hour or up to around 8 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove salmon from dish, brushing off excess marinade, and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast for 17-20 minutes (for 1 giant 2-pound filet; if serving individual filets, cooking time will be much shorter) until salmon flakes easily with a fork and is still somewhat reddish in center (salmon will continue to cook once you remove it from the oven). Remove from oven and serve immediately.
* I've found aji-mirin, sesame oil, and miso to be available almost everywhere these days in the ethnic food aisles of grocery stores, particularly at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. God, to be able to wander the aisles of Whole Foods again one day -- my heart goes a-twitter at the thought!