Photo/Illutration Fish pickled in miso (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

Editor’s note: The theme of Gohan Lab is to help people make simple, tasty “gohan” (meals).

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Fish and meat pickled in miso are great dishes to go with rice thanks to the flavor of the seasoning. Although it is common to buy ready-made versions and grill them at home, cooking expert Akiko Watanabe shows an easy way to prepare them yourself.

The light-colored salty miso was used in the recipe. The addition of sugar and sweet mirin sake enhances the sweetness and thins down the miso so that it can be applied easily to the fish. After the mixture is spread on both sides of the fatty marlin fillets and placed in the fridge overnight, the umami and savor of miso are transferred to the fish. The pickled fish should be eaten up in about three days.

All you have to do is remember the amount of miso, sweet mirin sake and sugar, and the mixture has a wide application such as the arranged version “pork pickled in miso.” The same marinade is used this time for pork not fish. We also tried pickling chicken cut into bite-size pieces and it also turned out well.

The toasty aroma of browning miso will sharpen your appetite even more. Since miso burns easily, keep the heat low when cooking.


(Supervised by Akiko Watanabe in the cooking aspect and Midori Kasai in the cookery science aspect)

* Ingredients (Serve two)

2 fillets (160 grams) of marlin (kajiki), 2 Tbsp miso, 2 Tbsp sweet mirin sake, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp oil

About 170 kcal and 0.8 grams salt per portion

1. Mix miso, sweet mirin sake and sugar.

2. Sandwich marlin between paper towel and pat dry (PHOTO A).

PHOTO A: To remove smell and excess water, sandwich the marlin between a piece of paper towel and press lightly. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

3. Apply miso mixture on both sides of marlin, place in container and keep in fridge at least overnight (PHOTO B).

PHOTO B: Apply the miso mixture thoroughly on both sides with a spatula or other tools. When left overnight, the miso becomes thinner due to the water released from the fish. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

4. Scrape off miso in 3, remove water by sandwiching between paper towels.

PHOTO C: Since miso burns easily, cook on low heat throughout. After turning, place lid to cook to the core. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

5. Pour oil in frying pan and place on low heat. Lay marlin fillets. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on low heat until they brown. Turn and place lid. Cook for about 2 minutes (PHOTO C).

Tips on making fish pickled in miso (Video by Masahiro Goda)

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Akiko Watanabe is a cooking expert specializing in Japanese cuisine.
Midori Kasai is a professor emerita at Ochanomizu University and former chairwoman of the Japan Society of Cookery Science.


Pork pickled in miso (Serves two)

Pork pickled in miso (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

Mix 2 Tbsp each of miso and sweet mirin sake and 2 tsp sugar. Use 160 grams of pork slices that are 5 mm thick and often sold for “shoga-yaki” (ginger pork) purpose. Pat them dry using paper towel. Apply miso mixture on the surface of pork slices, place in a container and keep in the fridge at least overnight. Scrape off miso and pat dry between paper towels. Heat 1 tsp oil in frying pan over low heat and lay pork slices. Cook both sides on low heat. Tasty even when cold, it is a perfect dish to pack in boxed lunches.


During the fermentation and aging stages of miso, the ingredients such as soybeans, rice and barley koji are broken down by the enzymes generated by the koji fungus. This gives rise to the sweetness, sourness, umami and aromatic components. The reaction between sugar and amino acids generated through the breakdown process also results in the aroma and color components. The fishy smell is subdued by the aroma of miso and the protein’s smell absorption effect.

The Asahi Shimbun

43 select articles compiled into a book

“Chorikagaku-de Motto Oishiku Teiban-ryori 1”

The Gohan Lab articles have been compiled into a book.

It includes 43 recipes and arranged dishes such as boiled eggs cooked into desired hardness by adjusting the time and a soup with umami-rich ingredients of chicken, tomato and mushroom.

The book comes with a bonus that gives readers access to five videos of popular recipes including spaghetti carbonara.

The book in Japanese and titled “Chorikagaku-de Motto Oishiku Teiban-ryori 1” (Staple dishes made tastier with cooking science 1) is in A4 size and has 100 pages.

Priced at 980 yen ($8.6) including tax, it is available at bookstores and ASA (Asahi-Shimbun Service Anchor) delivery outlets nationwide.

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From The Asahi Shimbun’s Gohan Lab column