This Japanese way with fish requires you to think ahead by a couple of days. Once you’ve slathered it with its thick sauce, the salmon needs to cure and marinate in the fridge for at least 48 hours, by which time its flesh will be delicately infused with the flavours from the den miso. Once it’s out of the fridge, it’s simplicity itself to prepare under the grill.
Marinading fish in den miso is a delicious, traditional treatment. Japanese grocers in the UK often offer fish ready-smeared and packed under plastic for you to cook when you return home. A den miso marinade is also used in Nobu’s utterly gorgeous black cod. I’ve never managed to find any black cod for sale, but salmon is just great here – try sea bass fillets too if you can get your hands on some.
To serve two, you’ll need:
2 one-person-sized pieces of salmon fillet, skin still on
200g shiromiso (white miso)
2 tablespoons sake (Chinese rice wine is good here if you have no sake)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
Most UK supermarkets seem to be stocking miso, sake and mirin (a sweet rice wine) these days, although the alcohols will be with the foreign foods section, not in the booze section. If your supermarket doesn’t carry miso, have a look in your local health food shop. I’ve noticed that for some reason, they almost all sell a good variety of Japanese kelps, soya sauces, and miso.
Put the miso, sake, sugar and mirin in a bain marie and simmer the mixture (which is now den miso) over boiling water for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the colour darkens. Remove the den miso from the heat and set aside to cool.
Put the salmon in a small bowl and pour over the cooled marinade, making sure everything is well-coated. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for between two and three days, turning the fish daily.
When you are ready to cook the salmon, lay it with the skin side down on a rack over tin foil. Grill under a high flame for about four minutes, until the miso is caramelising and bubbling as in the picture. Turn the fish so the skin side is uppermost and grill for another four minutes, watching carefully to make sure the fatty skin doesn’t catch and burn.
The fish will be sweet and silky with a crisp and caramelised skin. Serve with rice and a green vegetable.