Tetsuya Wakuda, one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs, is quick to point out that this recipe for Saikyo Yaki is not an invention of his but a dish that has been around for hundreds of years. Any firm fleshed fish can be used and in Japan it would be more traditionally made using white fish. If you’ve ever tried Nobu’s famous miso black cod it uses the same cooking technique. The basic preparation for saikyo yaki includes white miso (and quite a lot of it – don’t be tempted to make this with any other kind of miso as it just won’t work), mirin and sake. It’s incredibly simple but the overnight marinating is essential as it’s this process that allows the miso to soak into the fish, tenderise it and give it an amazing sweet flavour. I like to cook the salmon in a hot oven on a narrow sided baking tray and when almost cooked through put it under the grill to burnish the top. An even better way, is to cook the salmon in the oven and then blow torch the top of the salmon which gives the fish a wonderful smoky aroma. This dish is simple, elegant and very delicious and prefect for the family or for entertaining. One of those special dishes that never fails to please.
Ingredients – Serves 4 Adapted from Tetsuya Wakuda
4 centre cut skinless boneless salmon fillets, weighing about 200g each
250g white miso (shiro miso) – it’s important that it’s white miso and not red miso
¼ cup sugar
50ml extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon grated garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
Place sake and mirin in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Hold for about 20-30 seconds until the alcohol is evaporated then remove from the stove. Add sugar and whisk until fully dissolved. Leave to cool to room temperature. Place the miso in a bowl and add the sake mirin mix, garlic, ginger and olive oil and mix well to combine. Spread a third of the miso mixture on the base of a ceramic or glass tray large enough to hold the salmon fillets in one layer. Place the fillets on top of the miso and then evenly cover the fillers with the remaining marinade, making sure that all of the salmon is covered. Cover tightly with cling film and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 200C. Take excess miso off the salmon fillets and place them on a narrow sided, foil covered, baking tray and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the salmon is almost cooked through. At this point you can either place the salmon under a hot grill to char the top or you can use a kitchen blow torch to achieve the same result. You want the top of the salmon to be slightly blackened. This is great served with either plain rice or soba noodles tossed with a ginger and scallion dressing.