When I go looking for weeknight recipes, my goal is to find something easy and tasty, period. Culinary ambition usually takes a backseat to the working parent’s steering wheel, one often turned toward a freeway of who-drank-the-last-bit-of-milk-before-I-had-my-coffee disasters and you-forgot-to-sign-my-French-quiz imbroglios. I believe strongly in the proper weeknight dinner, but I view it as an antidote, not an addition, to life’s daily dramas.
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But once in a while, I stumble across a dish that is so elegant, and so transformative I can easily picture it on the table at a dinner party, with not a bit of the ease infringed upon. Miso and Agave Glazed Salmon by Sonali is one such dish, and the fact that the incipient picked it out made it all the more pleasurable.
As I documented here last week, I threw in the towel for a few weeks on menu planning, and let the family dictate what would be served. As such, there were meatballs. But the incipient agreed to pick two fish dishes, and found herself intrigued by Sonali’s lovely photos of this enticing bit of salmon.
After procuring the best salmon I could find -– easy in DC with great fishmongers in the farmer’s markets and MrsWheelbarrow’s generous willingness to pick it up for me when I am on the soccer field -– and buying white miso (how did I live through the last decade without this in my fridge?) I whipped up this glaze in the morning, and dropped the fish as instructed for the better part of the day in the mix. That’s it!
The only way I deviated from the recipe was the cooking method -– my broiler doesn’t work the way she instructs here, so I just set the oven to 400 degrees and watched my fish very carefully. This mild sweet flavor of the miso and the agave are the supporting arches under the distinct structure and taste that salmon always offers, topped with a lovely, crackling glaze.
Every single person in my house, including a house guest (you know the one, she plays volleyball) loved the complexity of the flavors here, matched with a fish most familiar. It will appear on my table again soon.
Whisk the miso, sake, mirin, ginger, agave nectar, and oil together in a large, non-reactive dish or bowl. Add the salmon and coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least a few hours, ideally overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Turn on the broiler. Place one oven rack under the broiler and another rack in the center of the oven.
Wipe any excess marinade off the salmon fillets and place them in a baking dish. Place the dish on the top rack under the broiler and cook until the top of the fish is nicely browned, 3-4 minutes. Then move the dish to the center rack and bake until the salmon is cooked to desired doneness, about 8-12 minutes. Serve warm.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).