Umami, the fifth taste after sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It’s found in a lot of Japanese cooking and describes that flavour that combines sweet and salty with something else to make an addictive taste packed with real depth. You can add a spoonful of simple everyday ingredients to your soups, sauces and stews to get that little bit of umami – using things like a touch of vinegar, a little marmite or Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce or one of Japan’s amazing ingredients: Miso paste!
This amazing paste is made from soy beans that are mixed and mashed with salt and a form of yeast/bacteria before being packed into an airtight container and being left to ferment for months and up to years..and can be found in different forms such as white miso (sweeter) or brown miso (richer and more salty). It creates an amazing end result that forms the base of soups but can be added to tomato sauces, stews and in this case used as part of a glaze for fish & vegetables.
We use this glaze with oily fish such as mackerel but it works equally well with aubergine. The extra benefit of this particular dish is that it’s pretty low on cooking effort – you grill the vegetables alongside the fish in one baking tray, all coated in the glaze and serve with whatever you fancy (noodles coated in sesame oil for example, or steamed rice).
- 2 tsp brown miso paste
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (tamari works well)
- half a lime
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1-2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp light oil such as groundnut
- 1-2 cloves of garlic grated/crushed
- 1 2cm piece of ginger grated/minced
- Combine the glaze ingredients, adding just enough water to make it a thick liquid but not too stiff.
- If cooking fish, deeply score the skin side of the fish and lay on a baking tray alongside whatever green vegetables you’re using. Recommended: spring onions, asparagus, tenderstem broccoli (cut thicker stalks in half if needed)
- Brush or spread the glaze over everything on the tray, until it’s well covered.
- Grill on high heat for 5mins each side of the fish, or until the skin is crisp. Remove the fish and finish the veggies off until they’re grilled but with a little bit of bite.
- Aubergine version: cut aubergine in half, deeply score into the white flesh with a grid formation. Lightly brush with oil then grill by itself first for 5-10mins, turning once each side. Once lightly softened, brush the glaze on top and continue to grill the flesh side up for a further 5-10mins until it’s cooked.
- Serve with buckwheat or egg noodles drizzled with sesame oil – it’s great to toss the noodles into the baking tray with the vegetables in it to pick up the last bits of sauce before topping with the fish or aubergine!