Sep 18
2009

Washoku Warriors Challenge #3: Miso Mania!

in Washoku Warriors

This month the Washoku Warriors explored the many faces of miso. We had three categories to work from for this challenge: sauces, main dish, and dessert.  The Warriors had the option to cook just a couple, cook them all, or just pick the ones that looked appealing to them.  These were the options:

(1) Miso Sauces:
– Creamy Tofu Sauce (p.107)
– Creamy Sesame-Miso Sauce (p.100)
– Pungent Red Miso Sauce (p.101)
– Herb Miso (p.105)
(2) Main Dish: Miso-Marinated Broiled Fish (p.229)
(3) Dessert:
– Fall Fruits With Flavored Miso Sauce (p.304)
– Compote of Early Summer Fruits With Citrusy Miso Sauce (p.305)
– Poached Peaches in Lemon-Ginger Miso Sauce (p.306)

So here we go!

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Fuji Mama

Out of the miso recipes the Fuji family tried, the most popular dish all around was the miso-marinated broiled fish.  I bought a beautiful piece of salmon, marinated it as directed by the recipe, and then decided to share the work with Mr. Fuji by choosing the grilling option (Mr. Fuji is our Grill Master).  The salmon was AMAZING.  It was probably some of the best salmon I’ve ever eaten–the miso marinade seemed to bring out the best flavors in the fish and it was incredibly moist.  Squirrel couldn’t get enough of it.  The marinating process was so easy and the results so delicious, I’m sure we’ll be eating fish this way many more times in the future.

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Discojing

Miso Marinated Broiled Fish: I halved this recipe and served the fish with steamed rice sprinkled with sesame seeds (goma), edamame, lemon wedges, and two types of pickled radish (daikon and traditional radish–homemade!). I really liked this recipe because it only has four ingredients! It was also very easy to make because the miso marinade did all the work for me and I didn’t have to prep anything on the actual dinner-day. I don’t really like the miso-marinade method because of the sheer amount of miso it used–my miso container was looking quite sad afterwards. Not sure if it was the recipe or the fish (I used rockfish because none of the other recommended types were available), but it seemed a little over-cooked and dry. I’m really glad I tried this recipe, but I won’t make it again unless I chose to make it with a cheaper fish. A little over ten dollars for less than a pound is expensive, but I was glad to be able to cook with fresh fish for the first time!
Substitions: marbled rockfish for black cod, pickled radishes for blushing ginger, lemon zest for yuzu peel (this is hard to find!)


Read discojing’s posts further detailing her miso adventures: #1, #2


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Sarah

I LOVED working with miso this month.  I tried three of Andoh’s sauces (the creamy sesame miso sauce,  the pungent red miso sauce, and the citrusy miso sauce), which I used in two of her recipes (Chilled Chinese Noodle Salad and Fall Fruits With Flavored Miso Sauce).  I’ve also been enjoying various types of miso soup and discovering miso used in all sorts of interesting ways – such as with cheese, in pudding, in bread, and as a marinade on BBQ!  Some of my Japanese friends have been a little sceptical of such “odd” uses of a traditional staple, but I’ve loved learning about different types of miso and experimenting with different flavours and new combinations.  I’ve definitely overcome any uncertainty I had about miso as an ingredient, and look forward to trying new varieties and using it in regularly in the future.

Read Sarah’s posts further detailing her miso adventures: #1, #2, #3

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Foodfreak

Frankly, a dessert with miso was a project I was kind of… not self-confident about. So my first stop was something quite familiar – the Creamy Sesame-Miso Sauce to go with green beans.  I did not make the required dashi, though – for the amount I needed (1 tbsp) making a liter (4 cups) of dashi seemed wrong, and since dashi doesn’t freeze well, I opted for a little homemade chicken stock, reheated and with a few wakame flakes added, to achieve a smoky seaweed flavor. It worked like a charm. We loved the beans, but in contrast to Elizabeth Andoh’s method of not cooling them in ice water, I will put them in ice water next time to preserve the pretty green color. A winner, undoubtedly – tasty, easy, special.  I decided to skip the fish, but go for the peaches (as peaches were in full season) with pungent red miso sauce. Little did I know that the miso wasn’t the dominating flavor at all – it was the ginger, and it made a nice, zingy addition to the peaches.  Anway, this was way too much work for something to be summed up as poached peaches / peach compote. I thought the gingery note was quite nice, and even the miso sauce added a lot to the flavor, but I still have to wait for a Japanese dessert (other than sesame or green tea ice) to wow me.

Read Foodfreak’s full report here!


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Jess

My first Washoku Warriors challenge! I decided, since it was my first time, I’d start out small and just do the main course: Miso Marinated Broiled Fish. It ended up being an interesting challenge on several fronts. not only was it my first time making Japanese cuisine, but it was my first time cooking fish. Ever. I’ve had my successes in the kitchen as well as my failures (setting a pitcher of orange juice on fire – still not sure how I did that one) so it promised to be an interesting experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find all the ingredients at my local Albertson’s (though Fuji Mama did have to put up with a few hysterical phone calls), bought myself some fresh salmon and this past Sunday put myself to work in my tiny kitchen. I ended up making this with the impatient marinade, although I got a bit “wild” and instead of yuzu peel, I instead used Lemon Pepper. I also ended up grilling the fish instead of broiling. After letting the fish marinate for an hour, our home was soon filled with the scent of grilling fish… and smoke. Lots and lots of smoke. Good thing I had only thrown a couple of pieces in! They got ruined, but the rest of the fish turned out just fine. Soon enough, after clearing out the smoke from our apartment and one full blown attack of hysterics, I sat drenched in sweat and covered in fish scales down to dinner with my husband and my brother, his wife and daughter. My brother Ben lived in Tokyo for 2 years, and so was my self-proclaimed “Japanese food expert taste tester”! For all my efforts, and hysteria and whatnot, I earned a resounding two thumbs up from everyone, including myself! It was delicious, all the flavors mingling together just right. That salmon was gone before I could grab seconds. Dinner was served with jasmine rice, snow peas and mandarin oranges, all of which accented our fishy goodness perfectly. This has definitely made me more confident, and I think this might just end up as dinner again very soon. :-)


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Cindy

My first challenge was finding the miso.  My local Asian grocery has almost ¼ of an isle dedicated to miso and yet to my surprise, I couldn’t find a single one labeled “Saikyo” or “Sendai.”  I did find some labeled “Shiro” but mostly they were just “White” or “Red” so I settled on a red and white one with no additives from Hanamaruki Foods made in Japan. Then, I had 2 miso days in the kitchen: one I followed the instructions and one I didn’t. When I read “miso” I immediately thought of miso soup and quickly found two recipes that looked delicious and easy to make: Miso Soup with Onions and
Potatoes and Creamy Sesame-Miso Sauce that I would put on blanched green beans.  A friend (who has only ever made Indian food and pasta) diligently prepped the beans and ground the sesame seeds in the suribachi while I got the rest of the meal ready.  I drained the fresh Dashi though a chinoise I
use in the kitchen and doubled the amount of potatoes and onions called for in the soup recipe (2 oz. of potato is only one little new potato – not enough to make lunch for two).  The soup was especially delicious spiked with wakame and was a true umami experience!  My daughter mustered up the
courage to try the soup and she loved it.  My friend went home with the sesame recipe…  On another day I tried to make the Toasty Hand-Pressed Rice with Leek Miso on the BBQ with left over rice.  Of the 10 patties I made, only 4 came off intact and the rest make a huge mess as they fell apart when trying to flip them.  I would recommend doing this in the oven until you master the fine art of a well put together rice ball.  I used the Leek Miso to make a few Broiled Tofu with Flavored Miso strips on the BBQ and those were delicious as well, and not quite the mess.

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Andreas of Delta Kitchen

I went for citrusy miso (replacing yuzu with lemon) and pungent red miso sauce.I liked the lemon/apple combination, while the plum and red miso sauce turned out a bit too salty. Probably I didn’t let it cool down enough before adjusting the taste.Skipped the fish for the time being but plan on making it some time in the coming weeks. Fresh fish is not easy to get here. There is a fishmonger in a town nearby but this requires a special trip on Saturday morning.

Read Andreas’s full report here!

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Coraa

For this month’s challenge, I made the four miso sauces (served with blanched or raw vegetables), the miso-marinated fish (which I trimmed into the shape of a fish and garnished with ginger to give the
appearance of eyes and fins ;), and the poached peaches. Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy the meal. The real winners were the miso sauces, especially the sesame miso, herb miso and red miso. I also liked the delicate flavor that the miso lent to the salmon — and next time, maybe I won’t overcook it! Seeing the different ways of treating and flavoring miso — and trying them side-by-side — gave me a real appreciation for the different flavors, and the different applications you might put it to. And the peaches? Let me tell you, chilled ginger-lemon-poached peaches on a warm summer night are the best thing ever.

Read Coraa’s full report here!

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Amber of The Sassy Chronicles

The Poached peaches in lemon ginger miso sauce was by far my favorite dish of the miso challenge. I have to say when I heard I had to make a dessert using miso I was put off, I was concerned that I wouldn’t like it. I mean peaches and miso? SO not my thing. Well, I should have trusted Ms. Andoh, I ended up eating my words (and more than my share of the peaches) they were delightfully sweet, tart, tangy and a touch salty. They were so delicious and a perfect ending to a wonderful meal. While the different components of this meal were very time consuming, now that I know my way around the different types of miso, in the future it will be much quicker. Here’s my picky little Henry, who won’t eat anything besides french toast and fruit, chowing down on a plate of rice, miso broiled salmon, creamy tofu spinach and poached peaches. (Please forgive the fork, we don’t have him trained on chopsticks yet!) Thanks for a great challenge Fuji Mama!

Read Amber’s full report here!

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Fuji Nana

Being super busy this month, I opted for what I thought would be the biggest bang for my time—the miso salmon (impatient marinade style).  I was somewhat puzzled by the process of wrapping the fish in two layers of cheesecloth, THEN brushing it with the marinade, which was rather thick and didn’t really seem to penetrate the cheesecloth.  Nevertheless, I faithfully followed the directions.  I let the wrapped and marinated salmon sit at room temperature for about half an hour, then took off the cheesecloth (I’m not sure why I would want to scrape the miso marinade off first, as it just came off with the cheesecloth), and stuck it under the broiler, turning once after about four minutes.  I made a dish of oven-baked saffron rice to go with it, thinking the colors would be pretty together.  I served the salmon with a bit of pickled ginger on top.  While we could catch only a faint miso taste, I have to say that the salmon was perfect—a bit crusty on the outside and moist and very tender on the inside.  My hubby said it’s one of the best pieces of salmon he’s ever eaten.  I hope someone else made this dish.  I’d like to hear if they had the same experience I did.

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Bec

I have to admit that Miso is something that’s always in my fridge – both white and red.  This means though, that I didn’t go out and get the Miso that was listed in the recipe (sorry!).  I made the fish using the overnight marinade, you really can see such a difference in the colour of the fish!
This grilled nice and easily, and tasted lovely – Andy did prefer the bits of the fish that had caught a little under the grill, as I think this enhanced the flavour.  This was lovely and and I’ve now got a jar of the marinade in the fridge for the next try. We did the creamy miso sauce as well, this is the first time I’d ever done this sauce, so I didn’t know what to expect.  I served it over brocollini and it did taste lovely and Andy did like it too, but I don’t think it was creamy enough – you can see see it was a little more of a paste than a sauce! Ah well, better luck next time.  Overall I really enjoyed cooking this and I’m looking forward to the next challenge.



{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }



Shaista Tabrez September 18, 2009 at 8:48 am

wow….fish looks awesome..cant wait to try this out..
first time here, u have a nice blog going on..

do visit my blog sometime. i blog at http://mixcalculations.blogspot.com/

cheers

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Brent and Jess September 18, 2009 at 8:55 am

This is actually a shout out to Fuji Nana – I was a bit weirded out by putting the cheesecloth on and THEN marinating the fish. I was seeing the same thing you did, that the miso barely penetrated the cheesecloth, so I ended up only using a single layer of cheesecloth instead of a double.I think that brought out more of the miso flavor.

Fuji Mama – what fun! Love ya!

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nicole September 18, 2009 at 8:57 am

thanks Fuji Mama for organizing this again!

to Brent and Jess & Fuji Nana: I was also worried about the miso penetrating the fish since it wasn't directly touching it through 2 layers of cheesecloth, but the flavor came out great! I think if I would have marinated it directly in the miso that the flavor would have been too strong. It did seem like such a waste of miso though…

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Sarah September 18, 2009 at 9:14 am

After reading everybody's blurbs I am DEFINITELY going to have to make the broiled fish this weekend! I may just pick up a few peaches to try that desert too… mmmmmmm yummmy!

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tokyoterrace September 18, 2009 at 9:15 am

So cool! Is there any way I can get in on this fun? Shoot me an email if you get a chance: tokyoterrace@gmail.com

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Bob September 18, 2009 at 10:38 am

I don't think I've ever knowingly had miso. It's something I really need to remedy.

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Peggy Bourjaily September 18, 2009 at 11:44 am

I love miso in almost anything. Will try the salmon. Looks amazing!

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Andreas September 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Thanks for the nice roundup.

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Mary September 18, 2009 at 3:42 pm

What a great round-up. A bit unfair because all of you do the work and we get to effortlessly pick a dish or two or three that we'd like to make. Ah, well! Life's not fair.

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veron September 19, 2009 at 6:59 pm

I did make mine but it was so fishy, I was so disappointed. I wonder if it was the miso I used or the fish. :(

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Tina @ Squirrel Acorns March 24, 2010 at 7:47 am

I’m a bit behind on these Challenges, but we finally made the miso-marinated fish a few weeks ago (with salmon) and it was AMAZING. My 7yo had an entire piece all to himself! Then we saved the marinade as described in the book and made it again last week. Amazing again! This dish was so easy to make and has definitely been added to my “make frequently” list. We served it with the rice with mixed grains (I made up my own mixed grain mixture), and the Asparagus tossed with crushed black sesames, and it was all so delicious. We served it for friends and it was definitely dinner-party worthy. We had homemade green tea ice cream for dessert. I took pictures so I can blog about it later on.

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