Weeknight Cooking

Miso and Agave Glazed Salmon

May 23, 2011

Miso and Agave Glazed Salmon

- Jenny

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.  

  • 5 tablespoons sake
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 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.

Jennifer Steinhauer

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Alexandria October 22, 2018
I’ve made this a few times and my family has loved it! I was hoping to make it for an upcoming dinner party - how long would you suggest cooking cooking a larger fillet (maybe 2-3 lbs)?
YukariSakamoto May 29, 2011
We do a similar version as a staple in our home (without the agave). Two tips, use cheesecloth around the salmon - the marinade still flavors the fish and less chance of burning the fish when cooking. Also, the marinade can be reused a few times. Maybe try it first with cod and then with salmon.
mcs3000 May 23, 2011
love miso + salmon. can't wait to make this. merci mille fois to the incipient.
Jestei May 24, 2011
let us know if you like it!
msitter May 23, 2011
Jestei May 24, 2011
i hope you like it
Sagegreen May 23, 2011
Salmon with elegance. Gotta love sake,mirin,ginger and white miso together with cousin agave! And what impeccable taste your incipient has! Thanks, Jenny and incipient.
Jestei May 24, 2011
thank you. the incipient, like all of us, goes all ways: salmon with miso today, in-n-out burger tomorrow!
rayva May 23, 2011
i make this w/o the agave, and topped with chive, cilantro and sesame seeds, recipe from eating well way back when. this looks simply delicious.
Jestei May 24, 2011
that sounds great, too
LucyS May 23, 2011
Would you mind sharing your good, fresh fish secrets in DC? The last farmer's market I went to only had crab, and while I've had some good luck at Whole Foods ('green' rated swordfish for my new recipe this week!) I'd love to find a better source in the area! This recipe looks great and so beautifully written. Thank you!
Jestei May 24, 2011
of course: mrswheelbarrow introduced me to the fish mongers at both the kensington farmers market (sat) and bethesda central market (sunday) who are both excellent. i think in a pinch wagshal's better than whole foods but it is $ and not as good as either of the fish guys in the market. mrswheelbarrow and other DC food52 denizens probably have more to say on this
MrsWheelbarrow May 24, 2011
Also, in NW DC, there is a very nice small fish market on Connecticut Ave. south of the circle at Western Avenue. The Fishery. Always fresh, and less expensive than WF or Wagshals. The fishmongers at the marina/wharf in SE are better in the summer than the winter, and - naturally - the only place to go for fresh crabs in the summer. Al fresco lunch of fresh steamed crabs or fish fry & she crab soup? Bring it on.
Jestei May 24, 2011
Oh one more addition: black salt restaurant also sells fish retail, if that is more convenient; my recollection is they have nice selection but also probably more expensive than FMs
LucyS May 24, 2011
Thank you so much! I'm going to experiment for the month of June making as much as I can from scratch and as local as possible - I'm so exited to try these new places!
CookOnTheFly May 23, 2011
Thank you for sharing this! I'm tired of making huli-huli salmon and was looking for a new idea. I use my left-over salmon to make onigiri (Japanese rice balls) for lunch, so this should be perfect! I'll try it this week!
Jestei May 24, 2011
i hope you enjoy it
Lizthechef May 23, 2011
Miso, huh? Good idea...
Jestei May 24, 2011
boulangere May 23, 2011
If I couldn't use my kids as either lab rats or props, well, I can't even imagine how to finish this thought.
Jestei May 24, 2011
true. true.
boulangere May 24, 2011
And they're technically adults. Until, technically speaking, they need a visit from the magic checkbook.
Bevi May 23, 2011
When my daughter was younger I was only able to sell her on salmon, calling it "Pink Fish" - that was during the prolonged period of her life when everything had to be either pink or "purrrpool".
Jestei May 23, 2011
i love that. a lot of watermelon and pink peppercorns from that period?
MrsWheelbarrow May 23, 2011
Elegant indeed! I'm making this as soon as possible. See you soon!
Jestei May 23, 2011
You will love it.
WeeklyGreens May 23, 2011
Are the meatballs of which you speak the ones I'm thinking? Do tell us how they turned out! And of course if the incipient ate them (again).
Jestei May 23, 2011
i am shoveling them into my mouth now. but also made turkey meatballs.
Burnt O. May 23, 2011
I gotta say, I think the teaming up of the incipient picking out the dishes, and you bringing them to light with your engaging and witty prose is a winning combo...
Jestei May 23, 2011
well, i keep promising my kids to stop using them as props in my, whatever this is........