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This was made at the end of a weekend where all the previous recipes we’d tried hadn’t quite come together, or worked as we’d hoped, so our expectations were low. What a relief: we were blown away with the flavour, and our enthusiasm returned with a vengeance! The recipe is by Jamie Oliver but inspired by the Japanese restaurant Nobu in London who are known for their black cod miso and for good reason. The recipe is simple but you need to start 24 hours in advance.

Wine Suggestion: This is a dish jam packed full of savoury umami flavours and needs a similarly umami loaded wine to match. We started with a small glass of Hidalgo La Gitana’s Pasada Pastrana, a single vineyard aged manzanilla which was excellent. Then we segued into savoury Grenache territory with Roc des Ange’s Segna da Cor from the wilds of Roussillon; vibrantly textured and almost sucking the stones it was grown on. What a way to end the weekend.

Black Cod Miso- serves 4

  • 4 bulbs of pak choi, quartered
  • 1 cucumber, peeled halved and deseeded, then sliced into long 1cm thick strips
  • juice of 1 lime
  • soy sauce
  • cooked sticky rice (to serve)

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 stems of lemongrass
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 200ml of sake or white wine
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 300g miso paste
  • 4 x 200g cod steaks, skin-on and pin-boned

Start the marinade the day before. Remove the outer layer from the lemongrass stems and discard. Bash the lemongrass with the back of a knife, then finely chop. Put the lemongrass into a pestle and mortar with the chilli, ginger and a pinch of salt, then bash to a paste.

Put the paste into a saucepan with the sake and honey, then bring to the boil. While the mixture is warming, gradually add the miso paste, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Simmer until the mixture is lightly golden, then remove from the heat and pour onto a flat tray so it cools quickly.

When the marinade is cool, put the fish into a container and pour over three-quarters of the marinade. Move the fish fillets around to ensure they are completely coated, then cover and put into the fridge. Put the rest of the marinade into a container and keep in the fridge until needed.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill until very hot. Put the pieces of fish onto an oiled baking tray, skin-side up and cook until slightly caramelized and golden. This will take 6-8 minutes depending on how thick your pieces of fish are.

Meanwhile, lay the pak choi into a steamer over a pan of boiling water. Add the strips of cucumber and steam until the pak choi is tender.

Stir the lime juice into the container of leftover marinade to loosen it slightly. Serve the fish with the greens and drizzle over a little soy sauce. Serve with cooked rice and the miso dressing on the side.

(Original recipe from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver, Penguin Books, 2006.)

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This is a bit of a labour of love from Ottolenghi Flavour. A good bit, however, can be done in advance and the end result is worth it. If you’re not feeling so energetic you can buy some fancy gnocchi from the supermarket and use that instead of making the turnip gnocchi. And another cooking discovery … we’re definitely going to be mashing our turnip in the food processor from now on!

Wine Suggestion: We fancied a Chardonnay tonight and given the savoury nature of miso chose one from the Maçon in France with a touch of oak: Domaine Manciat-Poncet’s Pouilly-Vinzelles. From a vineyard area dating back to Roman times this has depth and breadth, combining a natural, fresh minerality with a fleshy opulence supported by an almond-hazelnut and toasty character.

Turnip gnocchi with miso butter – serves 4

  • 1-2 Maris Piper potatoes with skin on, approx. 400g
  • 2-3 small swede, peeled and roughly chopped into 2 cm cubes, approx. 600g
  • 70ml olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 150g ’00’ pasta flour
  • 500ml veg or chicken stock
  • 200g spinach, roughly chopped into 8cm lengths
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 lime, finely grate the zest to get 1 tsp, then juice to get 2 tsp
  • 5g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 50g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted

Heat the oven to 220C fan.

Wrap each potato in foil and bake for an hour or until cooked through. While warm, peel and mash, you should have about 230g of smooth mash. If you have a bit too much you can always eat some as dinner is still some time away.

You can cook the swede in the oven at the same time as the potato. Line a baking tray with baking parchment, spread the turnip over and drizzle with ½ tbsp of the olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through – it may take longer than this so do be patient. Put the cooked swede into a food processor with 2 tbsp of olive oil and blitz until smooth, you’ll need to scrape down the sides a few times. You should end up with about 320g of smooth swede.

Add the swede to the bowl of mashed potatoes, then add the egg yolk and ¼ tsp of salt and mix to combine. Fold in the flour and make sure it is all well mixed in with no lumps. Transfer the dough to a piping bag and put into the fridge for an hour (you can do this up to a day in advance).

Snip the end off the piping bag to give a 2cm wide opening. Fill a medium pot with 1.5 litres of water and 2 tsp of salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook the gnocchi in quite a few batches without overcrowding the pan. Pipe 3 cm pieces of dough into the water and use a small sharp knife to cut off each piece. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the top. Scoop out the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer to a tray lined with baking parchment. When all the gnocchi are cooked, drizzle them with 2 tsp of olive oil and return to the fridge for 20 minutes or until slightly chilled (you can also do this up to a day in advance).

Pour the stock into a large sauté pan over a medium-high heat and cook for 12-14 minutes or until reduced to 200ml. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes until tender, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Return the liquid in the pan to a medium heat and whisk in the miso, lime juice, ginger and butter, then cook for 3 minutes, whisking until slightly thickened. Don’t let it boil or it will split. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside while you fry the gnocchi.

Heat the final 1 ½ tbsp of oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. When very hot, add half the gnocchi and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, until well browned all over. Transfer to a plate and continue with the rest. Add the cooked gnocchi and spinach to the sauce, then return to a medium-high heat and gently heat for a minute or two.

Divide between plates, sprinkle with lime zest, scallions and sesame seeds.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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This is tomato pasta sauce but with some unusual additions that make it taste a bit special. We hightly recommend you try this.

Pasta with tomato sauce & brown caper butter – serves 4

  • 400g penne pasta
  • Parmesan
  • flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tsp runny honey

FOR THE BROWN CAPER BUTTER

  • 4 tbsp capers, drained
  • 75g butter

Fry the onion in a splash of olive oil over a lowish heat for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, rosemary and tomato purée and fry for another minute, then add the tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in lots of salty water until al denté.

Melt a small knob of the butter into a small frying pan, then add the capers and fry until they burst open, then tip into a small bowl. Add the rest of the butter to the frying pan and cook until it turns light brown and smells nutty, then pour over the capers.

Add the miso, honey and a little seasoning to the tomato sauce.

Drain the pasta but reserve a mug of the cooking water.

Mix the drained pasta with the tomato sauce and a splash of cooking water to loosen the sauce. Divide between warm bowls, then pour over the caper butter. Serve sprinkled with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the chopped parsley.

(Original recipe by Ylva Bergqvist in Olive Magazine, December 2018.)

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Try this if you’re in a bit of a lunch rut … or if like us you have bought an extra bag of spinach and have some miso lingering in the fridge. It takes 5 minutes and it’s delicious.

Miso spinach on sourdough toast – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 200g spinach
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 sliced scallions
  • 2 large slices of toasted sourdough (to serve)

Mix the miso paste with the melted butter, then tip into a frying pan.

Add the spinach and cook over a medium heat until wilted, then add 2 tsp soy sauce. Divide between the toasts and sprinkle over the spinach & scallions.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This dish was inspired by the prettiest striped baby aubergines in our local grocers. The recipe is from a new book of ours, Australian Food by Bill Granger. We all loved this dish, jam-packed with Asian flavours and truly delicious. You need to marinade the salmon the day before. Serve with rice.

Wine Suggestion: A friend had given us a bottle of Albert Pic Chablis which we found a surprising match for this dish as we’d thought the aromatics, chilli and spices might fight the wine, but no! A relatively rich and full-flavoured Chablis, the dryness inherent in the wine just accentuating and complimenting the umami savouriness through the dish. We like surprises.

Chilli miso salmon with hot & sour aubergine – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 6 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tbsp gochujang paste
  • 4 x 250g pieces skinless salmon fillet
  • 100g frozen edamame beans
  • a small handful of pea shoots (if you can find them, don’t worry if not)
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • lime wedges, to serve

FOR THE HOT & SOUR AUBERGINE:

  • 125ml light flavoured oil, for frying
  • 4 baby aubergines, thickly sliced
  • 100ml tamari soy sauce (if you don’t have this use dark soy instead)
  • 100ml mirin
  • 50ml rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 small chilli, finely sliced
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced

You need to marinade the salmon fillets the day before. Make the marinade by mixing the sugar, mirin and sake together in a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and whisk in the miso, then stir in the gochujang paste and leave to cool.

Put the salmon into a dish, cover with the marinade, then cover and leave overnight in the fridge.

To make the hot & sour aubergine, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Shallow-fry the aubergine in batches, turning after 1 minute, until golden and tender. Drain on kitchen paper.

To make the dressing for the aubergine, whisk together the tamari, mirin, rice vinegar and honey in a large bowl. Whisk in the chilli, ginger and scallions. Add the cooked aubergine and toss gently to coat. Set aside.

Cook the edamame beans according to the instructions on the pack, then drain.

Lift the salmon pieces out of the marinade. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the salmon for 6-8 minutes, turning once.

Serve the aubergine and salmon with the edamame, pea shoots and coriander sprinkled over and with lime wedges on the side.

(Original recipe from Australian Food by Bill Granger, Murdoch Books, 2020.)

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Veg Stew with saffron, curry & parmesan cream

It’s not too often that we taste something that is nothing like anything we’ve had before but that’s what happened with this dish. A deeply savoury, packed with umami flavours, and very satisfying veggie dish. We were a bit suspicious of the Parmesan cream but it’s exactly what the stew needs to enrich it. Great stuff!

Wine Suggestion: This is a great match for a dry Oloroso Sherry with it’s nuttiness and umami characters playing an extra chorus alongside these interesting flavours in the stew. If Sherry is not your thing look for a good northern-Rhône white; our current favourite is the Domaine Coursodon Etincelle, an unclassified Roussanne-Viognier blend that is textured, purfumed and complex.

Vegetable stew with saffron, curry & Parmesan cream – serves 4

  • 4 cloves of garlic, save one clove and finely chop the rest
  • 1 onion, diced
  • olive oil or butter for frying
  • 200g celeriac, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 2 x 400g tins cherry tomatoes
  • Parmesan rind
  • 400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 slices of multigrain bread
  • a handful of mixed herbs, e.g. flat-leaf parsley, basil or dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes

FOR THE PARMESAN CREAM

  • 100g mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

Fry the onion in the oil or butter over a low-medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the celeriac and chopped garlic, turn up the heat and fry for a few minutes.

Add the potatoes, spices, tomatoes, cheese rind, 600ml of water and plenty of seasoning. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the beans and simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, cut the garlic clove in half and rub the cut edges on the slices of bread. Sprinkle the herbs on top and fry in oil and/or butter in a frying pan until golden.

Combine the mayonnaise and Parmesan in a bowl to make the Parmesan cream.

Remove the cheese rind from the stew and season with the miso, honey, chilli flakes and check for seasoning.

Serve the stew with the fried bread and Parmesan cream on the side.

(Original recipe by Ylva Bergqvist in Olive magazine, Christmas 2018.)

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Ginger & Miso Soup

Pumpkins are everywhere and the evenings have got dark and chilly. This delicious soup by Melissa Hemsley looks like sunshine and tastes warm and comforting. Don’t omit the topping as it really brings the soup to life.

Ginger miso sunshine soup – serves 6

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 5cm piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 large carrots, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1.5 litres stock or bone broth or water – we used Marigold Bouillon powder
  • 2 tbsp miso
  • juice of 1 lemon

CHIVE TOPPING

  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp chives, chopped
  • 4 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Melt the oil in a large, wide saucepan. Add the onions and cook over a medium heat for 4 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook for another minute.

Add the carrots & squash, followed by the stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook for 15-18 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl. Add the miso and lemon juice to another bowl and add a few tablespoons of the hot liquid from the soup and stir or whisk until you have a smooth paste.

Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the miso paste. Blend the soup until smooth and season to taste. Serve with the chive topping.

(Original recipe from Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Another fantastic recipe from the master of vegetarian cooking, Denis Cotter, of Café Paradiso in Cork. I (Jules) went there last week and got all inspired by tofu, having never been particular excited by it before. To avoid any confusion, tofu is bean curd and not “a meat substitute that tastes and looks just like meat” as the bewildered person at the table beside  me thought! There is quite a lot to do at the end of the recipe but it’s well worth the effort.

Maple-glazed tofu with rice noodles & kai-lan in a miso broth – to serve 4

  • 200g flat rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 300g kai-lan (Chinese kale) or sprouting broccoli
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced at an angle
FOR THE BROTH
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 60g fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 whole fresh red chilli
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, including stalks
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp red miso
FOR THE MAPLE-GLAZED TOFU
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chillis sauce
  • 250g firm tofu
  • vegetable oil, for brushing
First make the broth: in a large saucepan, bring 1 litre of water to the boil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, ginger, chilli, garlic and coriander. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Leave to stand for a further 30 minutes.

While the broth is standing, prepare the tofu; mix together the maple syrup, soy sauce, vinegar and chilli sauce.

Slice the tofu into 16 slices about 1cm thick. Place in the liquid and leave to marinade for 20 minutes.

Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat brush the pan with vegetable oil. Add the tofu and fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until lightly coloured. Pour in most of the marinade and continue to fry, swirling to make sure the tofu is coated, the marinade will stick to the tofu as a glaze. Add more marinade if necessary.

At the same time, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to the pack. Drain in a colander.

Finish the broth: strain out the vegetables and return the broth to the pan. Add the soy sauce.

Put the miso in a bowl and stir in a few tablespoons of the broth to get a smooth pouring consistency. Bring the broth back to the boil, whisk in the miso and hold at a low simmer.

Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wide pan over high heat. Add the kai-lan and sauté for 4-5 minutes, adding an occasional splash of broth.

To serve, put some noodles in warm bowls. Place the kai-lan on top of the noodles. Ladle over some broth, top with slices of tofu and sprinkle with scallions.

Wine Suggestion: This is a dish which has a lot of competing flavours and components so a wine match isn’t easy. A yeasty beer or ale would work a treat like a Hobgoblin or a Leffe Brun to compliment the yeasty flavours provided by the miso.

(Original recipe from Denis Cotter for the love of food, Collins, 2011.)

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