Miso Glazed Scallops

Miso Paste

I love the simplicity of this recipe. Miso paste is an under utilized ingredient in this country.

Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the fungus kōjikin, the most typical miso being made with soy. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called misoshiru, a Japanese culinary staple. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory.

The taste, aroma, texture, and appearance of miso all vary by region and season. Other important variables that contribute to the flavor of a particular miso include temperature, duration of fermentation, salt content, variety of kōji, and fermenting vessel. The most common flavor categories of miso are:

  • Shiromiso, “white miso”
  • Akamiso, “red miso”
  • Awasemiso, “mixed miso”
  • Hatchomiso

Miso Glazed Scallops

Serves 4 to 6 small servings

Use a sake that’s good enough to drink on its own. If you can’t find yellow miso paste, red or white miso will do just fine.

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup dry sake
1/4 cup miso paste, preferably yellow
1 lb large sea scallops
Lemon wedges, for serving

Carefully melt the brown sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it darkens slightly and caramelizes. Add the sake, raise heat to medium-high, and cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes syrupy and is reduced by about a third. Stir in miso and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, if any scallops still have the tough side muscle (the “foot”), remove them and discard. Cut the scallops in half (into half-circles). Mix with cooled miso-sake mixture and marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

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