Steam-Baked Trout Stuffed with Miso

Nijimasu no Dengaku Tsutsumi

This recipe is for sport fishermen—or anyone lucky enough to receive the bounty of their catch. The Japanese prototype is made by skewering whole tiny ayu trout, smearing them with bean paste, and setting them to cook at an open hearth. The recipe I give here, with the fish wrapped in foil, will work over an outdoor campfire or grill and indoors too, in an oven. Rainbow trout are the tastiest fish, I think, prepared this way, although shad is also marvelous when stuffed with the pungent bean sauce.

Ingredients

  • 4 whole trout, about 4-6 ounces each

Neri Miso Sauce

  • ¼ cup Sendai miso or other dark fermented bean paste
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 slender scallion or small bunch fresh chives

Method

  1. Rinse the fishes well, then with the back of your knife, scrape the fine, sticky scales off the skin. Make a slit from just below the gills down the belly line, remove the viscera, and rinse the fishes well, then pat them dry. Lay each fish on a 10-inch square of aluminum foil with its shiny side facing up.
  2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, and stir to mix them well. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce is bubbly and glossy. Simmer for another minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Stuff the trouts’ belly cavities with the pungent bean sauce, then spread any leftover sauce over the top of each fish. Fold the foil to enclose each trout in a sealed pocket.
  4. Place the packets on a rack suspended over a hot grill, only an inch or two from the coals, or on the top rack in a hot oven (400 degrees). Bake the fish for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Trim the scallion, then slice it into thin julienne strips on the diagonal. Rinse these strips briefly in cold water, drain, and squeeze dry. Or, mince the chives. After each person opens a packet of aromatic fish, he or she garnishes it with some scallions or chives.

,