Cooking with Lady Smokey: Miso Delicious

It happened again this year just as it did last year… I bought some miso to make Miso Soup. I thought, “This will be the perfect healthy, quick meal for us.“ And it was. But then, as every year, we had lots of leftover miso sitting in the refrigerator, staring at me each time I opened the door. Luckily it has quite a long shelf life and I guess we should just eat lots more Miso Soup and call it good but I knew there had to be millions of different recipes I could come up with to incorporate more of that miso into our diets. And so my experimenting began.

When preparing Miso Soup, I always read that you should throw the miso in at the end once you have turned the heat off so you don’t kill all the good nutrients that are in the miso. I tried to keep that in mind when creating most of these recipes, yet I noticed in my research that there are plenty of miso recipes out there that do not. Also, I used red miso for all these recipes but there are many different kinds of miso which all vary in flavor and color. Just see what you like.

This first recipe is probably our favorite. It is so simple and quite delicious. We used catfish but you could use whatever fish is local or regional to your area. (This handy seafood watch guide makes it easy to shop for sustainable seafood!)

Miso Catfish
Serves 2
• 1 Tbsp Miso
• 1 Tbsp Honey
• 1 tsp Mirin Rice Wine
• 1 tsp Brown Rice Vinegar
• 2 Catfish Fillets
• Grape Seed Oil for sauteing

Mix the miso, honey, mirin, and vinegar together in a small bowl. Heat an iron skillet to medium heat. Add some grape seed oil, just enough to coat the bottom well. Add the fillets. Cook for a few minutes. Add a spoonful of the miso mixture to each fillet and spread it out. Flip to cook on the other side. Cook a couple minutes. Add another spoonful of the mixture and spread to cover. Cook another minute or two. Remove the fillets. Enjoy!

We enjoyed these with some carrots cooked with ginger and onions and some baby kale sauteed with a tiny bit of tamari.

I started seeing great little local Japanese eggplants in the market and the arrival of some local shiitake mushrooms. I kept thinking about them together so I came up with this next noodle dish.

Roasted Japanese Eggplant & Shiitakes with Miso Sauce
Serves 4
• 2-3 Japanese Eggplant
• Shiitake Mushrooms
• Head of Garlic
• Grapeseed Oil
• 2 cups water
• ¼ cup Red Miso
• 2 Tbsp Mirin
• ¼ cup Tamari
• 2 tsp fresh finely grated Ginger
• Fresh Cilantro & Mint, chopped
• Udon noodles
• Fresh Spinach, chopped (optional)
• green onions, chopped

Roast Mushrooms and Eggplant at 400 for 20-25 min. Rst Garlic for 30-35. Heat 2 cups of water, Mirin, tamari, ginger, white parts of the green onions together in a saucepan. Stir. Simmer for a few minutes. Mash roasted garlic and stir in. Remove from heat and stir in the Miso. In another pot, bring some water to a boil. Add noodles. Cook according to directions. Place chopped Spinach, cilantro, mint, and green onions in bottom of bowl. Add noodles, roasted veggies, pour some of the sauce over top.

Side tracking from the miso for just a moment, this whole business of roasting shiitakes made me think that roasted shiitakes would be delicious tossed with roasted Brussels sprouts. Good news, they are delicious together!

I thought the eggplant/miso combination could be used in a Mediterranean way, as well. I later realized this was an odd version of the classic eggplant spread, Baba Ganoush which I had never made before. (By the way, tahini seems to be another one of those ingredients similar to miso for me in that I decide I need to make homemade hummus and suddenly end up with a jar full of tahini taking up permanent residency in our refrigerator). It wasn’t pretty… sort of a sea of brown mush. But with the right garnish, it made for a good little appetizer. The flavors were nice together and it was pretty healthy. I served it with a simple Greek Salad and a glass of red wine.

Roasted Eggplant Miso Spread
(Makes about 3 cups)
• 1 large Eggplant
• 1 bulb Garlic
• 2 Tbsp Miso
• 1 Tbsp Tahini
• Juice of ½ of a Lemon
• ¼ tsp Sea Salt
• Black Pepper and fresh, chopped Parsley to garnish

Roast the whole eggplant (I just put a slit in it) and the whole garlic (with tops cut off and drizzled with some olive oil) at 400 for 30-40 minutes. Once they have both cooled, scoop out the insides of the eggplant and slip the garlic cloves from the skin and place both in a food processor or blender. Add the miso, tahini, lemon, and salt. Blend. Garnish and serve with pita chips.

I found some beautiful green beans the other day and decided those might be good with a little miso. They were. Here’s what I came up with, below. Unfortunately, I don’t know how many beans I used but I do know that the sauce I made was too much for the beans so, sauce according to your taste but be careful not to over-sauce as the sauce is a little salty. Grant had the brilliant idea to use the leftover sauce to make a miso compound butter (using unsalted butter)! We ate it on toast for breakfast with a fried egg. It was subtle but delicious.

Green Beans Tossed with Miso and Walnuts
• 1 Tbsp Miso
• 1 Tbsp Tamari
• 1 Tbsp Mirin
• Green Beans
• Walnuts, toasted and chopped

Mix the miso, tamari, and mirin together in a small bowl. Blanch and then saute the green beans. Place beans in a bowl and toss with some of the sauce. Top with the walnuts.

We found recipes online for Steak with Miso Butter. I think the butter would also be great with seafood. I think the miso experiments are just beginning. Let us know if you have any favorite miso recipes or if any of these ideas spur some of your own.

I will close with a little music. The other day, a couple of my Nashville friends started posting photos and posts about being at a special Alan Jackson show at the famous bluegrass club, The Station Inn. My first thought was, “Lucky girl, I wish I had been invited to that!” and then I realized the show was on the Station Inn calendar and it was his album release party for his new bluegrass album! I had just been clueless. Let this be a reminder to you to keep up with what’s going on so you don’t miss out on great happenings! The good news is, I can’t stop listening to his new album and they made this little video that night which features a few cameos of a few of our friends.

Also exciting is that on his new bluegrass album, Alan Jackson does a great version of the song, “Wild and Blue” which was made famous to most of the world by John Anderson (and to me by Sally Timms and the Mekons). The song was written by John Scott Sherrill who just happened to show up one night at Santa’s Pub in Nashville as Grant was playing good ole’ country tunes with Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers. They talked him into singing it so Grant got to play it with the guy who wrote it. That was a fun night for him. I will close with this version of John Anderson’s Wild & Blue from 1983. Enjoy! It will get stuck in your head but it will be fun!