I’ve read it a hundred times: prepare as much as possible in advance and your next dinner party will be no sweat. Of course, right? Then why is it so difficult to execute? I always find myself juggling various stages of food prep moments before the doorbell rings, hot sheet pan in one hand, trying to make counter space with the other. The unlucky first guest who arrives bears the brunt of this frenzy, as I’m usually too preoccupied to hold a decent conversation. In my efforts to learn from these stressful experiences (dinner parties should be relaxing!), I’m giving that whole prepare in advance thing a try. This dish is a big step towards easy dinner party prep and I’m proud to share the journey to more zen preparation with you.
When I think of miso glazed sea bass, my mind goes straight to late night, cocktail-fueled dinners at Tao, Manhattan’s original Asian fusion hot spot. They serve two versions of the dish, an appetizer satay served on skewers along side roasted asparagus, and a filet as a main course.
Once on the menu on quite a few restaurants around town, it’s rare to see Chilean sea bass served these days. The fish was so popular it was overfished, but is now deemed sustainable once again. That said, it’s not sold at all grocery stores, and when available, the price is rather high. I’ve made this recipe with cod and it’s a perfect substitute. Other firm, mild flavored fish works well too, so don’t get hung up if you have any reservations about sea bass.
The first key in preparing this dish is marinating. Here, the sea bass can be marinated as few as 4 hours and as long as 24 hours in advance. The 4 hour version works fine if you’re in a rush, but any less time marinating and the miso flavor won’t have time to flavor the fish. Best plan is to do it the night before, pop it in the fridge until just before the event, and you’re one step closer to actually enjoying a relaxed cocktail with your first guest.
The short cooking time also makes this a party winner. The oven doesn’t need to be on all afternoon, and as long as the fish is cut into fairly small pieces (around 2 ounces each), they’ll cook fast. If you’re familiar with the quirks of your oven’s broiler (meaning you’ve never scorched the hell out of something in a moment while your back was turned), you can cook the fish under the broiler for the full cooking time. If not, cook the fish at 350 degrees F and finish up with a minute or two under the broiler to caramelize the glaze. Even faster (and more fun), skip the broiler and use a kitchen torch to quickly caramelize the surface of the fish before serving.
Inspired by Tao
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 1/4 cup minced ginger
- 1/2 cup miso
- 1/2 cup sake
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1 lb sea bass, cod, or other firm, mild fish
- 6 wooden skewers
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 16 asparagus stalks (about 1lb thick stalks)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- Combine sugar, garlic, ginger, miso, sake, and mirin. Whisk until smooth and set aside.
- Cut fish into 8 equal parts.
- Transfer fish to plastic bag and add half of miso marinade. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Over a steam bath* or double boiler, reduce remaining miso glaze until thickened, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove fish from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place fish on foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet and gently pierce with skewers.
- Brush with miso glaze and bake until just cooked, about 3-5 minutes.
- Turn on broiler* and broil fish until just caramelized, 1 minute.
- Serve hot, topped with chopped chives, over grilled asparagus (recipe below).
- Snap off woody ends of asparagus and discard. Using a peeler, peel the skin off the bottom 3/4s of each stalk of asparagus, leaving the tips intact.
- In a small bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic.
- Toss asparagus stalks with marinade.
- Heat grill pan to high heat and grill asparagus until charred, about 3 minutes on each side.
*Gently reducing the miso glaze over a steam bath helps ensure the glaze will caramelize - if you're pressed for time, reduce the miso glaze in a small pan over low heat.
*If you have a kitchen torch, use it instead of a broiler to give a quick caramelized finish to the fish.