Miso Madness: Marinated Fish

Today was one of those days. An overflowing to do list and whatever I started seemed not to end precisely where I wanted. Adding to the distraction that comes with a not-so-much-sleeping-anymore-baby my oldest one joined in, as she couldn’t go to school either. Those days would normally be destined for some take out food or home delivery. Normally. If take out wouldn’t take so much time to pick up, given that I have to take the entire kids-gang with me. If delivery services would make tasty food. If I would find a delivery service that has food for every taste and age. If I would find a delivery service that serves the food either super fast or in a reliable time frame to arm me for the witching hour when my girls transform to kidzillas. But so far I haven’t found one. And on those days I cannot afford to stir a pot on the stove while consoling one, two or three girls at the same time close to tears myself. On those days I need a kitchen lifesaver. Quick and easy soul food. Comforting, healthy and satisfying.

One of my all time favorites in this situation is succulent Saikyo Yaki (Miso-marinated grilled fish), served with a steaming bowl of freshly cooked rice and a savory miso soup. As usual, I have some fish in its marinade in my fridge waiting patiently for those days to come. Now all I need is a tiny bit of preparation to bring out the smiles again with a yummy dinner on the table in about 10 minutes elapsed time. How does that sound?

So whenever you have a moment during the day wash the rice, put it in the rice cooker and keep it warm until you need it. At the same time soak some kombu (kelp) in water and make dashi (basic stock) within a couple of minutes (see recipe here), putting you in the pole position to whip up a miso soup while the fish, that you just need to take out of the marinade, is broiling. That’s it.

Certainly no remedy against the witching hour, but a way to make your life easier in the heat of the moment. Admittedly, I almost always have some salmon marinated in miso sitting in my fridge. Just to be prepared. Also because it simply tastes wonderful and keeps for about five days in the marinade.  And even if I don’t have one of those days, I don’t mind a yummy and healthy dinner that only takes minutes to get on the table.

Saikyo Yaki


  • 4 pieces á 100g  Fish (e.g. Salmon, (Spanish) Makarel, Cod)
  • some saké (optional
  • Sarashi or cheesecloth, big enough to wrap the fish
  • Non-reactive vessel that holds the fish in a snug fit layer


  • 450-500g saikyo miso (sweet, light miso)
  • 80 ml Mirin
  • Zest of one yuzu, lemon or orange


Rinse the fish under cold water and pat it dry. If you want to hedge your bets rinse the fish with sake and pat it dry. Mix the ingredients for the marinade and put half of it in a non-reactive vessel. Place the sarashi or cheesecloth (in a double layer) on top of the miso in the vessel, press down slightly and add the fish (snug fit). Enclose the fish with the remaining piece of sarashi/cheesecloth, put the second half of the marinade on top of it and close the lid or cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let the fish marinate at room temperature for a minimum of six hours or in the fridge for up to five days. The longer the fish marinates the firmer it will get and the more intense the salty-sweet miso flavor will become.

To cook the fish scrape off the marinade on top of the sarashi/cheesecloth (save the marinade for another use in a glass jar) and remove the fish from the container. Place the fish skin side down on a piece of aluminum foil and grill it for about three or four minutes (the skin will bubble and char a bit). Turn and grill for another 2-3 minutes. If you use a broiler start with the skin side up (to protect the fish against the heat). If you have neither use a pan and sear the fish slowly (skin side down first) on medium heat, being careful not to let it scorch. Remove the fish from the heat when being slightly crusty and golden on the outside and still juicy and succulent on the inside and serve it right away or at room temperature.

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