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Recipe of the Week!

June 24, 2010

In a previous post I mentioned I would be attending an event featuring regionally renowned chef Dale Miller.  Last night that event took place, and it was a terrific experience.  Chef Miller briefly discussed his approach to cooking – luxurious and extravagant food, prepared with the utmost simplicity.  These concepts might seem mutually exclusive, but as Chef Miller explained, you can make simple food taste luxurious by using the proper techniques to bring out food’s natural flavor, and by keeping the cooking process as short as possible.  He said that if he comes across a recipe that has more than 10 ingredients or takes more than 10 steps to prepare it, he skips it and moves on.  I bought into his philosophy immediately.  Chef Miller shared some personal stories as well – he is a warm and funny guy…oh, and he can cook!  Last night he prepared for us miso-glazed salmon.  Miso, as he explained for those who didn’t know, is fermented soybean paste used extensively in Japanese cooking.  There are several varieties of miso – he used the white kind for this recipe.  It can be found in the U.S. at any Asian supermarket (see this post for a good one in Albany).  He prepared the glaze first, then coated the salmon filets with it and seared them in a pan before finishing them in an oven.   

I am not a fan of salmon – it has a unique taste that I just can’t enjoy, no matter what kind of sauce is on it.  But Chef Miller’s salmon was delicious!  It had so little of that salmon taste – it was more like a very mild, meaty white fish.  And the glaze was superb – sweet and a little tangy.  After the demonstration, I talked with Chef Miller about the salmon, and I asked him why it tasted so little like salmon.  He agreed that his salmon does not have that real fishy salmon taste – he said it all has to do with how the salmon are raised, and where they are caught.  He said farm-raised salmon tend to have that strong salmon taste, whereas a lot of wild salmon does not.  He also said that he gets his salmon from either the Pacific Northwest region, or around Nova Scotia.  Those areas tend to have the best quality salmon, and he flies it in fresh every day, which is another key to losing that salmon-y taste.  Frozen salmon, he said, retains that fishy taste.  Obviously you’re going to pay a lot more for fresh salmon every day, but for him it’s worth it.  So here is the recipe from last night – and to my own surprise, a salmon dish is this week’s Recipe of the Week!  The sake and mirin are both different kinds of Japanese rice wine – you can also find these at any Asian market.  You can make this dish in the oven/broiler, on the grill, or on the stovetop, which is the method I will describe here.  Enjoy!

Dale Miller’s Miso-Glazed Salmon

(serves 6)

1 cup sake

1 cup mirin

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 2/3 cups white miso

6 fresh salmon filets, about 6 oz. each

Make the miso at least 2 days prior to use.  In a saucepan, bring the sake and mirin to a boil and boil 2-3 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.  Reduce heat to medium.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar until it dissolves.  Slowly mix in the miso paste, a little at a time.  Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly so the mixture doesn’t burn.  Strain miso mixture to remove lumps, then let cool and refrigerate.  When cold, pour a good splash over each salmon filet.  Let salmon marinate for 1-2 days. 

Heat a sauté pan on medium-high heat and add a small amount of vegetable oil.  Place filets in pan and caramelize both sides.  Reduce heat to low, add a small amount of white wine or sake and a small amount of miso.  Cover and cook until done, about 5-7 minutes (it should flake apart easily).  Transfer to plate, drizzle a little miso glaze over the top.  Eat!

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