Miso-glazed salmon promises firm, flavorful fish with a glazed, lacquer-like exterior but takes 3 days to prepare. We wanted to make a dish that pulled back on the traditional approach (and shortened the process) but still achieved the depth of sweet-savory flavor that this dish is known for. And instead of a firm, chewy interior, we wanted fish that was silky and moist, contrasting with the texture of the crust. By reducing the marinade time to between 6 and 24 hours, we found a window that allows you to achieve such a goal. A marinade composed of miso, sugar, mirin, and sake allows for flavor penetration, moisture retention, and better browning by drying the fish’s surface. Broiling the fish at a distance from the heating element allows for the fish to caramelize and cook evenly at the same time.
Note that the fish needs to marinate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours before cooking. Use center-cut salmon fillets of similar thickness. We find that the best way to ensure uniformity is to buy a large center-cut fillet (1 1/2 to 2 pounds if serving 4) and cut it into 4 equal pieces.Yellow, red, or brown miso paste can be used instead of white.
1. Whisk miso, sugar, sake, and mirin together in medium bowl until sugar and miso are dissolved (mixture will be thick). Dip each fillet into miso mixture to evenly coat all flesh sides. Place fish skin side down in baking dish and pour any remaining miso mixture over fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
2. Adjust oven rack 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Place wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Using your fingers, scrape miso mixture from fillets (do not rinse) and place fish skin side down on foil, leaving 1 inch between fillets.
3. Broil salmon until deeply browned and centers of fillets register 125 degrees, 8 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through cooking and shielding edges of fillets with foil if necessary. Transfer to platter and serve with lemon wedges.
Why Marinate with Miso?
A miso marinade works much like a typical curing technique. The miso (a paste made by fermenting soybeans and sometimes other grains with salt and a grain- or bean-based starter called koji), sugar, and alcohol all work to season and pull moisture out of the flesh, resulting in a firmer, denser texture. Miso also adds flavor benefits: sweetness, acidity, and water-soluble compounds such as glutamic acid that, over time, penetrate the proteins and lend them deeply complex flavor.
America's Test Kitchen Video:
How Wild Salmon Differs from Farmed Salmon and How to Cook Salmon to the Right Temperature
2017, America's Test Kitchen. Reprinted with Permission.