The Kitchen | A very versatile miso sauce

I love experimenting with new ingredients in the kitchen but I am always disappointed when I use one tablespoon of the ingredient and then leave it forgotten in the fridge only to be thrown away in a refrigerator clear out. Last week Geoff and I made Steak with Miso Sauce from Nigel Star's cookbook, Eat (more on that fantastic book later- thanks for the rec Gus and Kristin!) it was totally delicious but left us with an almost entirely full tub of white miso paste. Determined to use the miso paste again I used it as the basis of my grocery shopping trip last night, and I am so glad I did. 

I recently discovered Food52 and headed there to check out their miso based recipes for inspiration. Since it is the middle of fall I immediately gravitated towards their miso roasted root vegetables recipe. It looked delicious so I started filling my basket with my favorite root veggies: carrots, parsnips, turnips, radish, and yellow onion. Reader Tip: use radishes sparingly as they have a strong, spicy, and somewhat bitter flavor. However, they act as a great balance to the other, sweeter, vegetables in small quantities

It wasn't until Sous Geoff mixed up the sauce at home that I realized how amazing and versatile this sauce could be. Here are a few ideas of how to slightly alter the sauce for a number of different applications:

The Basic Sauce: Courtesy of Food52

  • 2 tbs miso paste: you can use red (strongest), yellow (medium), or white (mild) depending on how strong you want your miso flavor to be. We had white in the house and felt like it was very flavorful but I look forward to using this recipe to experiment with other misos
  • 2 tbs of maple syrup (or honey if you prefer)- we used maple syrup
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs grapeseed oil (or canola)

*The sauce in its basic form will perform excellently roasted or broiled on vegetables or proteins as the flavor will intensify while your food cooks in the oven. Here is a quick idea for broiled scallops:

  1. Set oven to broil
  2. Rinse and dry sea scallops then toss in the miso sauce
  3. Place in a shallow baking pan
  4. Broil for 6-8 minutes or until scallops start to turn golden brown
  5. Serve immediately with a little extra sauce for garnish

For the grill: I have long been accused of not liking grilled chicken but I now know that it was my approach I did not like. Typically I would marinate the chicken for a few hours before dinner, dry the chicken off before it went on the grill so it would not flame up, and serve a semi flavored piece of meat that never had enough of the marinade or sauce infused into the experience. Geoff recently started using a new technique that has made me do a 180 on grilled chicken, and it is sooo easy:

*A quick note: we used chicken thighs but if you want to use chicken breast I recommend cutting them into a thinner cutlet to help them cook more evenly and make portion sizes more manageable (is it just me or chicken breasts enormous these days?)

  1. Preheat the grill
  2. Salt and pepper your chicken (don't marinate it) just make sure you have your sauce ready to go
  3. I added 1-2 tbs of sriracha to the basic miso sauce to ramp up the flavor as the grill tends to "burn off" flavor rather than infuse it- plus sriracha is delicious
  4. Salt and pepper your chicken and put it in the grill for about 4 minutes each side on high heat
  5. When the chicken is almost done, generously spoon the sauce onto both sides of the chicken allowing the sauce to caramelize slightly
  6. Remove the chicken from the grill and serve

Salad Dressing: to make a salad dressing out of this miso sauce (and once you try it you definitely will want to) I would do the following:

  1. Subtract a tbs of maple syrup and add another tablespoon of grapeseed oil 
  2. Add chopped scallions (just the white portion)
  3. Add 1 tsp minced ginger (optional)
  4. Add a dash of pepper 
  5. Sprinkle your greens with some sesame seeds or slivered almonds (optional)

*The miso and soy add a good amount of salt to this sauce so taste before you add any additional salt. 

A Dipping Sauce: I have been trying to figure out a way to transform this basic sauce into a dipping sauce for veggies or even dumplings at a party. Typically with a dipping sauce you want something that is a bit thicker and creamier so I think what I am going to try is blending it together with a whole avocado and if I am filling really crazy I may add a bit of wasabi too! 

Moral of the story: I don't think I will ever throw out a half used tub of miso again.