Miso Mackerel

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: easy

‘… these day’s not liking miso is like saying you don’t like chips. Just give in.’

'There was a time when I didn't like anything miso...'

What you need

4 large mackerel – filleted and bones removed

1 large chunk of ginger 8 cm long – peeled and sliced julienne

200ml sake

3 tbs miso – red (awase) preferably

3 tbs palm sugar

60ml mirin

60ml dark soy sauce

Large bunch/pack of watercress

Dad's Recipe Tales

I bought some spanking fresh mackerel from the fishmongers

It was so fresh – it should have been driven straight home, coated in flour and tossed in a sizzling hot pan – instead it ended-up being tossed into the freezer…

It’s not generally recommended to home-freeze oily fish, such as mackerel.  But if it’s very fresh and filleted it will freeze successfully. However, regardless of the original freshness, when it defrosts, don’t expect to re-create that ‘straight-into-the-pan’ ultra-fresh eating experience. Happily, with mackerel you can adopt a more robust approach: bolder flavours will divert attention away from the fish’s distant landing date. A Japanese soy marinade or miso braise works well.

I have learned about Japanese cooking from a couple of ‘Harumi’s’ cookbooks and a Nobu ‘party book’ – based on Peruvian as well as Japanese ingredients. Harumi Kurihara’s  books are excellent and a good introduction to Japanese cuisine. She demonstrates many wonderful flavour combinations as well as simple cooking techniques – including this mackerel recipe. Harumi says cooking fish in miso is popular with Japanese men. I don’t know about that, but it met with Mrs WDC’s approval.

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Cut the mackerel fillets into 3 or 4 pieces.
  2. Put the sake, mirin, miso, sugar, and soy into a sauce pan and bring to the boil – add the ginger and return to the boil.
  3. Place the mackerel in a single layer in the sauce pan and bring back to a simmer and cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Strain the fish from the pan  – in this instance the liquid in the pan should be considered the braising broth, its purpose was to make the fish taste wonderful and is now largely redundant. However, a couple spoonfuls over the fish, watercress and rice or noodles will provide a good sauce and the seasoning. Taste the sauce, but be aware that our palates are not always used to the sweet and salty intensity of Japanese sauces. It is likely to taste quite strong so further reduction will increase this effect. Make a judgement; reduce, leave as it is, dilute with chicken stock, white wine or water.
  5. Serve the fish on a plate with watercress. I served this with Japanese brown sushi rice with peas, courgette and chives. A really excellent meal all round.

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