The Japanese have long been aware of the tenderizing and preserving properties of fermented bean paste on fish and seafood. If fact miso-marinated fish was a staple in most households before refrigeration became possible or popular. Fresh fillets of fish, which would otherwise spoil within a few hours without chilling, can be preserved buried in fermented bean paste for up to 3 days. Even after the advent of home refrigeration, the Japanese continue to ‘pickle’ fish in miso because of the marvelous aroma and savory rich taste of the fish when grilled.
Here I’ve combined the ancient technique of miso marinating and added the relatively new (to the Japanese, that is) method of oven baking to create a chicken dish that’s sure to win fans on both sides of the Pacific. Dark meat, such as thighs, is tastier, though breasts could be prepared the same way. Baking the miso-marinated chicken produces delicious pan juices, which reduce further to create a glorious, rich mahogany gravy that’s wonderful over a bed of plain rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes. The chicken is delicious cold, too.
In a glass or ceramic dish that’s large enough to hold the chicken pieces in a double layer (I find a loaf pan measuring
Rinse the chicken pieces under cold water and pat dry. Lay two of the pieces, skin side up, over the smoothed miso mixture. Make sure that the meat is spread out so that all surfaces come in equal contact with the marinade. Spread some of the reserved miso marinade over the chicken. Lay the remaining pieces of chicken, skin side up, over this new layer of miso. Bury the chicken under the remaining miso marinade. Cover with clear plastic wrap and marinate for a minimum of 3 hours at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Set your oven for 350 degrees. Pour off any accumulated liquid and scrape off the miso marinade, saving it for future use (it may be used four or five times, for up to 1 month, if refrigerated).
I like to use the disposable foil broiling pans when making this recipe. Lay the chicken in the pan in a single layer, skin side up. Cover the pan snugly with aluminum foil, shiny surface down. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil “lid” and pour off and save the accumulated pan juices; they will become your gravy. Chill to help remove any fat, or spoon or blot the fat away. Taste and season the gravy with the soy sauce, if necessary. Keep the gravy warm.
Line the pan with the “lid” foil and place the chicken, skin side down, in a single layer on the shiny foil. Place the chicken under the broiler for 1 minute. Flip the chicken and sprinkle with the fragrant pepper.
Broil for another minute or until the skin is bubbly, blistery, and richly colored. Watch the chicken carefully; it burns easily. Serve hot with gravy, or cold.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.