Sunday, June 12, 2011

Miso grilled Spanish mackerel サバの味噌焼き

This is another dish I made from the Spanish mackerel I bought the other day. This is based on the recipe in a cook book called "the Japanese Grill" but it is a rather standard recipe.

Mackerel fillet: After removing the pin bones as before, I salted both sides of the fillet with Kosher salt. I wrapped it in kitchen parchment paper and then with a paper towel and placed it in a Ziploc bag overnight in the refrigerator. This process removes excess moisture. You could use a special wrapping sheet popular in Japan called "Picchito" ピッチト 食品脱水シート. Wrapping the fillet with this sheet will produce a similar effect without using salt. After 24 hours, the paper wrappings were moist indicating excess water indeed had been extracted. I wiped any remaining moisture from the surface of the fillet with a paper towel.

Miso marinade: As suggested in the recipe, I used sweet "saikyou" miso 西京味噌 (1/4 cup) but if you use regular white or red miso, you could add sugar. I added mirin (2-3 tbs) to the miso until a thick sauce consistency was reached. After I smeared the miso marinade on both sides of the fillet, I wrapped it with plastic wrap and put it back in the Ziploc bag. I marinaded it for 6 hours before grilling. The original recipe calls for 3 days of marination.

Grilling: I used a Weber grill with lump charcoal. As usual, I started the fire using a Charcoal starter chimney. I spread hot coals over only half of the grill to make hot and cool areas. After cleaning the grill, I sprayed Weber-brand grilling spray (this does not flare up even with hot coals underneath). I started the meat side down on the hot area of the grill for 2 minutes or so and flipped it over to grill the skin side for one to two more minutes. Because of the sugar content of the miso marinade, it is very easy to char the fish like I did here (image below right, but it still tasted good).  I moved the fillet to the cool side of the grill and put the lid on and finished cooking for 2-3 more minutes.

This is a rather classic but excellent preparation of mackerel. If has been a long time since we have had this kind of fish and taste, so we really savored it. The fish has a nice firm texture with a miso flavor. The charcoal grilling added to the flavor and it tasted even better the next day served cold. We'll be doing this one, again. I served it as a drinking snack with stewed sweet potato and azuki. For a drink, we are partial to sake for this dish and had "turbid" sake called Momokawa Organic Nigori from Sake One. This is not too sweet with a smooth rice residue (you do not have to chew the sake) and went well with this rustic grilled mackerel.

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