This Miso Salmon Recipe features:
Miso marinated salmon makes an easy, no fuss, full-flavored dish to pair with rice, quinoa or even on top of mashed potatoes. The marinade and sauce for this Miso Salmon dish is made of 3 easy-to-find Japanese ingredients available at most supermarkets: Miso, Mirin, Saké.
What is Miso?
Miso paste is a Japanese ingredient, made of fermented soybeans, rice and sea salt. It’s the main ingredient in miso soup, used in pickling and added to many sauces.
The flavor is pure “umami” – depending on where and how the miso is made, it can be savory, salty, sweet, fruity or earthy. Each region in Japan has their own specialty, and many families still follow the tradition of making their own batch of miso.
If you’d like to learn more about using miso, how it’s made or traditional Japanese farm food, one of the very best books is Japanese Farm Food, by my friend, Nancy Singleton Hachisu. Even if you don’t cook a single recipe from the book (some of the ingredients may be hard to find in smaller towns), the book is a treasure of stories and food journeys.
Store bought miso is easy to find, most major supermarket chains will stock them (look in the refrigerated produce area). Most miso is gluten free, but check the ingredients and make sure barley, rye or wheat is not used.
My favorite brand of miso is Marukome Organic Miso (you can buy it on Amazon), and I’ve heard wonderful things about American Miso Company’s products, available at Whole Foods.
For this Miso Salmon recipe, look for “sweet white miso” or “shiro miso.” It’s a variety of miso paste that’s lighter in flavor, more sweet and less salty than red miso or others.
More Miso Recipes
What is Mirin?
Mirin is Japanese sweet cooking wine made from rice. Mirin is a lovely golden amber color, syrupy in consistency. Japanese mirin gives dishes a slightly sweet flavor, and a beautiful sheen – it’s what gives teriyaki its sheen!
Traditional mirin is just made from just sweet rice, water and the sweetness comes from a natural fermentation process. It’s difficult to find great mirin, the ones I see at the supermarkets (even Asian markets) are not fermented, but gain their sweetness from added sugar. Also, supermarket mirin has extremely low alcohol content (1%) or none at all.
Use what you can find – that’s my motto. And, if you can’t find mirin, here’s a simple substitute for you: 2 tablespoons white wine or saké + 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Even I cannot find great mirin at my market – in this recipe, I’m just using “mirin seasoning.”
When buying mirin, it can be confusing, since many Asian ingredient use similar words. Mirin can be labled as: Sweet cooking wine
sweet cooking rice wine, sweet cooking rice seasoning.
It is NOT rice wine vinegar, which is a vinegar made from rice.
Recipes using mirin:
What is Japanese Saké?
Saké, often called the “Drink of the Gods” by the Japanese is a beverage produced from sake varietal rices, pure water, koji spores, and specially selected yeasts. Premium sake is brewed like beer, but drinks like fine wine.
Saké can be served chilled or hot, but the best saké is served chilled. Heating cheap, lesser quality saké is one way to mask its inferior flavors!
For cooking, I like to use the cheap saké, but for sipping, I prefer “Junmai,” “Ginjo” and “Daiginjo”(designation of quality) saké.
If you’re interested in learning more about Japanese saké, I have an entire series devoted to the making of saké, how to differentiate the different grades, how to pair foods and how to buy saké. See Japanese Saké.
How to make Miso Salmon
Prep for the sauce is simple, it takes about 30 seconds to whip together:
Whisk together miso paste, saké and mirin.
The little ball whisk in the photo is actually a miso whisk and measuring spoon all in one. Twirl the miso whisk into a tub of miso paste and pull out. The smaller end will grab about 1 teaspoon of miso paste, and the other end about 1 tablespoon. In addition to measuring, you use the same tool to whisk together the ingredients. Handy! I bought this tool while in Japan a few years ago, but I haven’t been able to find it online or in the U.S.
Spread the miso marinade on the salmon, on all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes-ish.
If you’re short on time, and don’t have the time to marinate, it’s okay! Make a double batch of the marinade. Use one half for the salmon, and reserve the other have to heat up as a sauce to serve. See recipe for details.
The salmon goes into the broiler for 10 minutes and it’s done.
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Miso Salmon Recipe
In this recipe, you can use any type of firm fish you like – especially great with salmon, sea bass or cod. Cooking time will depend on thickness of fish. 10-12 minutes for 1″ thick fillet. Garnish with green onions or a sprinkling of sesame seeds. If you don’t have time for the 30 minute marinade, don’t worry – see note at end.
Ingredients:1/4 cup sweet white miso paste (shiro miso)
2 tablespoons Japanese sake
2 tablespoons mirin
4 salmon fillets, 4 ounces each
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, sake and mirin. On a plate, spread the miso mixture on all sides of the salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
2. Turn oven to broil, set oven rack to 8″ below heating element, and preheat until hot.
3. Place salmon fillets on a baking tray lined with parchment or tin foil. Use paper towel to blot away the miso from top of salmon to prevent burning.
3. Broil salmon 10-12 minutes, until flakes easily and is nicely browned on top.
*No time to marinade? Double the miso, sake and mirin measurements. Reserve half of this mixture. Prepare and cook salmon as in recipe. When salmon is just about ready, pour reserved miso mixture into a small sauce pan, whisk in 2 tablespoons of water. Heat over medium heat until bubbling. Pour sauce over salmon to serve.