Miso – an Amazing One-Ingredient Marinade

Last Sunday night I remembered that I had a pork tenderloin in my fridge. I took it out of the freezer two days ago and was suddenly worried that it would go bad before I could cook and eat it. I had planned to drop by SF Market to grab some shio koji and pickle it, but I didn’t, and (more importantly) I didn’t want to leave my house.

Luckily, I had some red miso (i.e. soybean paste fermented with shio koji). Unfortunately, I didn’t have mirin or sake, the other two ingredients needed to make this excellent traditional Japanese marinade . Frustrated by my pitiful pantry, but still unwilling to leave my home, I spread undiluted miso on all the pork, dipped it in a small cake pan, and refrigerated it without a lid for 24 hours.

The next evening, I wiped the miso off the pork, placed it in a shallow baking dish, and baked it over low heat in the oven at 250 to 50 minutes until the temperature reached 130. I finished it in a hot skillet with frothed butter with a splash, in as a result the temperature went up to about 145 ℉, which is exactly where I like it. (You may recognize this sequence of events as ” reverse roast, ” which is my favorite way of cooking pork.)

As you would expect, it was good, despite the fact that its effects were slightly less subtle than the other two marinades. Miso lightly salted the pork to wick away moisture, enhancing the pork flavor and giving it a salty fermentation flavor. It lacked the subtle sweet and sour notes of miso-mirin-sake combination, and it was not as funky as the pork that I marinated in shio-koji, but it was incredibly tender, with a slightly nutty, highly piquant. aroma that does not require additional seasonings.

Obviously, I’m not the first to stick something in miso and notice its delicious effect – the Japanese have been doing it for a long time. But it was a nice reminder that this ingredient has so much to offer on its own, and I was surprised at how effective and delicious it was without any other ingredients. I used red miso, but I suspect other colors will have the same delicious effect, although keep in mind that darker colors will give your meat a saltier and richer flavor.

No need to measure, just spread it over a piece of meat until it’s all covered with about 1/8 of an inch of pasta, refrigerate it for five hours (or up to 24 hours), then dry it off and cook as normal. The longer the meat is in miso, the more “jerky” it will taste, so start with lighter ones with more tender proteins. For pork tenderloin, however, I recommend the full 24 hours. It was good.


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