Miso-Sake-Glazed Fish Fillets and Steaks

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Many years ago, I tasted a spectacular grilled ling cod that had been marinated in sake kasu, the dregs left from the fermentation of sake, the Japanese rice wine. The marinade both cured the flesh slightly and permeated it with a faintly sweet flavor. Grilling caramelized and glazed the surface. Kasu is very difficult to find but, happily, a combination of sake, mirin, and white miso produces a similar effect. This marinade is spectacular with fatty or oily fish such as salmon, black cod, and bluefish as well as Chilean sea bass. White miso, a paste made of fermented soybeans, is golden in color and has a sweet, mellow flavor. Mirin is sweet Japanese rice wine. Both are available at health food stores and Asian markets. You need to marinate the fish for at least 12 hours, so plan ahead.

You can prepare the glaze up to 2 months ahead and refrigerate it. The fish must be marinated for at least 12 hours, or for as long as 24 hours.


Cooking Methodgrilling



Total Timea day or more

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, healthy, lactose-free, low calorie, peanut free, tree nut free


Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturelight, savory, smoky, sweet, umami, winey


  • 1 cup sweet white miso paste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup mirin (Japanese rice wine) or medium-dry sherry
  • Four 6-ounce fish steaks or fillets, such as salmon, sea bass, yellowtail, Chilean sea bass, black cod, or very fresh bluefish
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


  1. To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

  2. Spread one third of the glaze over the bottom of a glass baking dish. Arrange the fish in the dish and spread the remaining glaze over the fillets or steaks to coat them completely.

  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, but no longer than 24 hours.

  4. Bring the fish to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.

  5. To cook the fish, prepare a fire in a grill or preheat the broiler.

  6. Scrape the glaze from the fish and discard. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and brush lightly with the olive oil.

  7. Grill or broil 3 inches from the heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until you feel no resistance when you insert a kitchen fork into the fish. Serve immediately.



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