Total time: 5 minutes, plus marinating time
Servings: Makes 2 cups marinade
Note: This savory miso marinade works for most meats, such as boneless pork chops, beef and chicken, as well as fish fillets such as cod and a variety of raw vegetables. For meat and seafood, try a mild and sweet white miso, such as saikyo. For vegetables, look for red or white miso that contains whole grains, such as moromi, koji or tsubu. The grains give the vegetables another layer of texture and flavor. Mirin and sake are added to the marinade to soften the salinity of the miso. The darker miso tends to be saltier. Let the food marinate for 1 to 3 days. Any longer can make the food too salty, so be careful not to overmarinate. Miso varieties are available at Japanese and general Asian markets.
2 cups (roughly 15 ounces) white or red miso
3 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons mirin
tablespoon sugar (optional)
1. In a nonreactive container, mix miso, sake, mirin and sugar. The marinade should be smooth enough to spread easily. The basic ration to keep in mind is 10 parts miso to 1 part sake to 1 part mirin. The consistency is softer than peanut butter. If you need to make it softer, add more mirin or sake. Adding mirin will make the marinade sweeter. If you like it firmer and longer-lasting, add less sake and mirin.
This marinade keeps in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks. Don't marinate meat and vegetables in the same marinade.
2. You can reuse the miso marinade if you wrap the meat or vegetables in cheesecloth before marinating: Double-line a sealable container with the cheesecloth, add the food and wrap the cheesecloth completely around it. Pour the marinade over the top. When you're ready to cook, open the folds of the cheesecloth and take out the food. If some marinade sticks to the food, you can rinse it off lightly and pat dry with a paper towel.
Each tablespoon: 38 calories; 1 gram protein; 6 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 470 mg. sodium.
Pork chops in miso marinade: Place 4 boneless half- or three-quarter-inch-thick pork chops in the miso-sake marinade and marinate 2 to 3 days. If the pork chops are thicker, marinate 3 to 4 days. Wipe off the excess marinade with a damp paper towel. Broil, grill or pan-fry the pork.
Each pork chop: 320 calories; 36 grams protein; 13 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 12 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 84 mg. cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 989 mg. sodium.
Vegetables pickled with miso marinade: Rub 2 peeled carrots, ribs of celery (cut in thirds) and 2 unpeeled cucumbers with 1 tablespoon salt (preferably ama-shio — available at Japanese markets — which contains a lot of nigari, or magnesium chloride, that is highly soluble in water). Let stand 15 minutes to extract excess moisture from the vegetables to firm them. Wipe off the salt and moisture with a paper towel and put the vegetables in the miso-sake marinade for a day or two (the longer you keep them in, the stronger and saltier the flavor will be). Slice and serve.
Each of 10 servings: 76 calories; 3 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 826 mg. sodium.