Healthier choice recipe: Grilled salmon with caramelised miso paste

Generally, I do not eat salmon, except when it is raw or, at best, is cured or smoked.

The taste is not so assertive and I like the uncooked silky texture.

When it is barely cooked, it remains silky and soft, and I will eat it and even like it.

This recipe uses grilled salmon slices and adds a dollop of sweetened miso paste on top.

The Japanese fermented soya bean paste is then lightly caramelised with a blow-torch.

The flesh is seared, but depending on how long you torch the fish, it can be quite rare on the inside, which is how I like it.

Done this way, it becomes a dish made in heaven and with little sin too, as it is one of the healthiest types of fish you can eat.

Rich with omega-3 fish oil, salmon is among the most heart-healthy types of food. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, at least twice a week to ensure the intake of plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid.

But what if the salmon is farmed?

You see, current worries revolve around farmed salmon, which are generally kept in crowded pens close to the shores, given antibiotics to combat unsanitary conditions and fed fish meal that can be polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls.

These are toxic man-made chemicals that are believed to cause cancer and memory impairment, among other risks.

Because of this, people now worry about eating farmed salmon and opt for wild salmon instead. But wild salmon is not easily found in Singapore and is expensive.

A new fish market, Oceans of Seafood in the bustling PasarBella, a gourmet market in The Grandstand at Bukit Timah, formerly known as Turf City, brings in wild salmon, but only seasonally, out of concern for its sustainability.

At other times, it offers sashimi-grade salmon - good enough to serve as Japanese raw fish slices - which is farmed, but only from farms that use sustainable methods, it said.

And that is the way you should go: Buy fish from reliable sources.

Nevertheless, it is still better to eat your fish than not. According to nutritionists, the benefits of eating salmon, even farmed, far outweigh the risks.

Farmed salmon is reported to have more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid than wild salmon.

Omega-3 fatty acid promotes healthy joints and skin and reduces the risk of heart disease, among other benefits.

Salmon is rich in protein and low in fat and calories. It is a good source of essential vitamins, such as vitamins B2, B12 and D, which promote healthy bones and teeth.

But if you want to play very safe, keep consumption to just once a week.

In addition, you should trim away the skin and fat as much as possible and use cooking methods such as grilling, as in this recipe, or boiling to reduce fat, as this is where the toxins are stored.

So I guess I will keep to my habit of eating salmon, but only if it is served to my liking.

wdspice@gmail.com

Recipe

Grilled salmon with caramelised miso paste (Serves four)

Ingredients

½ tsp salt

4 skinless salmon fillets, about 100g each

3 tbs white miso (Japanese fermented soya bean paste), available from supermarkets

2 tbs sake (Japanese rice wine)

1 tbs sugar, or to taste

Shredded cucumber

Softened konbu (kelp)

Rice vinegar

Salt and sugar, to taste

Method

Rub salt into the four salmon fillets. Leave them aside in the refrigerator.

Mix the miso, sake and sugar in a small bowl. Adjust their proportions to taste.

Divide the sweetened miso paste equally among the four fillets, placing a dollop on top of the thickest part of each fillet of fish.

If you like your salmon cooked thoroughly, oil a grill pan and heat it on the topmost rung under the grill. When it is heated, place each salmon fillet on the pan and grill for about two minutes. Watch carefully as the sugar in the sweetened miso might burn.

If you like your salmon rare, skip this step and go to the next step.

Using a kitchen blow-torch (available from kitchen shops), caramelise the top of the sweetened miso paste and the fish for about a couple of minutes, till it becomes fragrant and slightly burnt.

Serve the fish at once and, if you like, with shredded cucumber and softened konbu, dressed with rice vinegar, and seasoned with salt and sugar.

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