Bluefish Poached in Miso

Sakana no Miso Ni

Fermented bean paste, called miso, is used in many ways in the traditional Japanese kitchen. It is probably best known in the West as a thickener for soups, though its use in simmered and sauced dishes, such as this one, is also deeply rooted in Japan’s culinary traditions. The final garnish of fresh ginger adds an extra measure of flavor.

Ingredients

Neri Miso Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons aka miso (dark fermented bean paste)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 fillet of bluefish, 8 to 10 ounces
  • cup dashi (basic sea stock) or water
  • 1 tiny knob fresh ginger, the size of a nickel

Method

  1. Combine the fermented bean paste, sugar, and rice wine in a small saucepan, stirring to mix well. Cook the sauce for 3-4 minutes over a medium flame, stirring constantly as the sauce thickens and bubbles. Set the sauce aside.
  2. Rinse the fish fillet, pat it dry, and then cut it into two pieces. Score the skin side with a few slashes (to keep the fish from curling when cooking).
  3. Pour the sea stock or water into a skillet large enough to hold the two pieces of fish in a single layer. Remove the peel from the fresh ginger, and add the peel to the skillet.
  4. Cut the peeled knob of fresh ginger into tissue-thin slices. Stack these, and then cut them into very fine threads. Soak these ginger threads in cold water for a few minutes while you poach the fish.
  5. Lay the fish, skin side down, in the skillet. Over medium-low heat, bring the liquid in the skillet to a gentle simmer. Poach the fish for 2-3 minutes, until the color changes and the flesh firms a bit. Spoon the simmering liquid over the fish often as it cooks.
  6. Discard the ginger peel, add the neri miso sauce to the skillet, and stir to incorporate smoothly. Carefully flip the fish so that the skin faces up. Continue to poach the fish for another 2—3 minutes, until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy.
  7. Drain the ginger threads. Using a broad spatula, transfer the fish to your serving plates, skin side down. Spoon extra sauce over the fish, then garnish with a pile of ginger threads.

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