Recipe: Mackerel braised in miso sauce (Saba no misoni)
Serves 3 to 4, depending on the size of the fish
1 very fresh large mackerel
1 piece of ginger about 1 inch / 2.5 cm long
1 Tbs. mirin
1 Tbs. sake
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. dark soy sauce
2 Tbs. red (akamiso) or blended miso (awase miso), or whatever miso you have
Have the fishmonger take the head off and gut the fish if you can. If not, you will have to do this yourself. Either way, once you get the fish home, wash it carefully and cut it crosswise into 3 to 4 steaks. With the point of your knife, make a slash about 1/4 inch / 1/2 cm or so deep in the skin of the side that will be facing up when you put the pieces into the pot. (This helps the cooking liquid penetrate the fish better.)
Peel and finely julienne (cut into small matchsticks) the piece of fresh ginger.
In a pan that’s large enough to hold the fish pieces in one layer, put in the mirin and sake. Turn on the heat and let this cook until the liquid has bubbled and is almost gone. (This gets rid of most of the alcohol content in the mirin and sake.)
Add about 1/2 cup of water, sugar and the soy sauce, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the julienned ginger and miso, and stir until the miso has dissolved.
Add the fish pieces with the slashed side up, and then add more water until the liquid comes about halfway up the side of the fish. Bring up to a simmer, then lower the heat to about medium-low.
Make a ‘lid’ with some crumbled up aluminum foil with a few holes poked in it, and put this ‘lid’ (an otoshibuta or dropped lid, see here for an explanation of otoshibuta) on top of the fish.
Simmer on medium-low heat (the liquid should be bubbling gently, but not boiling) for about 15 minutes. For best results, lift off the foil lid a couple of times, tilt the pan to gather the juices in a corner, scoop the juices up and baste the fish with them.
After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and replace the foil lid. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a bowl, cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the fish to firm up and also absorb the flavors of the braising liquid.
Serve chilled or heated up a bit, with a little of the liquid spooned over, including some of the ginger bits. A little green for garnish is nice too – I used a fresh shiso leaf, but some parsley or even lettuce will do too.
Note: While this has the strong flavors that go so well with rice, I don’t recommend this for bentos (which is why it’s on Just Hungry, not Just Bento!) since you do have to keep it chilled until right before eating. If you want it warm, just heat it up a bit in a pan with the liquids.
Notes: Made this recipe Feb 29 2012, it was good, but not quite what I was looking for. Might be good to boil the sauce a bit to thicken and concentrate it and let it sit in it’s juices overnight to get a stronger flavour.