No Miso Puns (Couldn’t Think of Any)…Just Cooking

Sitting down one morning about 2 weeks ago to check my emails and do some work, I received correspondence from fellow blogger, Genie De Wit from Bunny Eats Design.  I had been invited to participate in a monthly blogging event called Our Growing Edge.  I dug in and did a little research on the parameters and the topic seemed right up my alley.  Let me give you the rundown: Our Growing Edge refers to the experimental side of us that yearns to learn new things.  It seeks to bring together individuals in an inspirational manner to expand their comfort zone.

I went through what I am calling the 5 stages of PPB (Public Premeditated Blogging).  Public Premeditated Blogging is when there is something to be written in accordance with a set of parameters or regarding a particular topic for a potentially large audience.  Generally I engage in SBI (Spontaneous Blogging for a mostly Imaginary audience), but I digress.

  • Stage 1-Anxiety: A complete blogging event newbie, I will admit I was nervous.  What if I do it wrong?  How many people will read it?  What if my choice lacks inspirational quality?  Oh, the pressure!
  • Stage 2-Acceptance: I made a conscious decision to take on the challenge.  From there the hardest part was which culinary hurdle I would choose to tackle…  So many options…
  • Stage 3-Preparation:  Once I chose a nemesis to tackle I set about making shopping lists, gathering equipment, charging camera batteries and sharpening my note-taking pencil.
  • Stage 4-Execution: With everything ready, all that was left to do was cook.  My favorite part.
  • Stage 5-Drafting: Now for the process of translating what I did into understandable blog jibberish.

 So I am going to walk you through my Growing Edge project…my battle with Miso Butterfish.  I first sampled this dish in 2011 at Nobu Restaurant in Waikiki; hands-down best fish I have ever had.  The dilemma:  butterfish which is actually black cod is not available in Costa Rica.  I needed to find a suitable substitute.  I researched and read everything from sea bass to salmon…  I decided to try 4 different local fish species and see which one worked best.  I purchased red snapper, Spanish mackerel, trout and sting ray.

 During the whole process I hit a few bumps.  The recipe called for Mirin (sweet Japanese condiment with low alcohol content) which none of the grocery stores had in stock.  I decided to just switch it out for additional sake.  Other than that I did everything by the book.  Some versions of this recipe call for fish with skin others for skinless fish; I chose the former to gauge how well the skin would hold up with the marinade and cooking process.

I have a HUGE confession to make.  Although I am a professional chef with at least a decade of experience, I make mistakes all the time and not just of the cooking variety.  Case in point, once I got to the actual cooking and eating part of this experiment I snapped at least 50 photos of the process, only to realize a few hours later that I had been shooting without a memory card in my camera and had no actual record of the results.  Imagine my despair and near panic after 3 days of experimenting!  Well long story short, I luckily had extra filets already marinated and snapped final photos of those.

So without further ado, I give you the:

Our Growing Edge

Miso Butterfish Project

71g white miso paste
48ml sake
41g sugar (I used raw sugar because it was on hand, regular sugar will work fine)
6 fish filets of your choosing (I used red snapper, Spanish mackerel, trout and sting ray)
Combine the miso, sake and sugar in a small saucepan.  Heat over a low flame, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.    Rub each filet¹ with 1 – 2 tablespoons of the miso mixture.  Rub the mixture over the entire surface of the filet (top, bottom, sides).  Place in a sealed container² and allow to marinate for 2 – 3 days.  Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C).  Preheat your broiler to high or its highest temperature³.  Broil the fish filet for approximately 2.5 minutes or until it is golden on top.  Bake for 5 minutes (thin – medium filets) or 8 minutes (thick filets).  Serve.  Many sides could be served with this but without going to fancy jasmine rice and snow peas would be great or if that is a bit too gourmet for some of you perhaps well-seasoned white rice and green beans.

Makes 6 portions

 ¹  I cut my fish filets in smaller portions to have better test subjects but you can leave them whole.
²  I placed the filets in individual plastic bags, I highly recommend doing this.  It minimizes the amount of air during the marinating process, it saves refrigerator space and it aids with removal of excess marinade (you can squeeze the filet out of the bag and the extra marinade stays in the bag).
³  My oven and broiler cannot be heated simultaneously.  I heated my oven to 425°F (218°C) then turned it off and turned on the broiler.  Once I cooked the fish under the broiler and turned the oven back on to finishing cooking the fish it was at almost exactly 400°F (204°C).

As for my opinion on the results…well the sting ray turned out to be tainted, so I cannot comment on it.  The skin on the red snapper held up the best.  The best results flavor-wise were the mackerel and the snapper.  Both were moist and flaky.  I think if I do it again I will wait until I can find mirin so I can compare to the all sake version and I might torch the surface of the fish instead of broil it (I don’t think my broiler is strong enough).

Thank you to Bunny Eats Design for the invitation.  I hope to take part in this event again (if not monthly then perhaps every other month).  It was very interesting to be pushed to do something I have been meaning to do for a while.

I hope someone out there tries this and shares their results as well!

Until next time…happy edge growing!


6 responses to “No Miso Puns (Couldn’t Think of Any)…Just Cooking

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful submission. I love how you experimented with several kinds of fish for comparison. I have never eaten or cooked sting ray, it’s a shame it was no good this time. I adore trout but my go-to fish if I were making this dish would probably be salmon. You really can’t go wrong with tasty fish, rice and greens.

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  3. Miso hungry now! I love puns, lol. I will be trying this in the not so distant future 🙂

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