This miso fish comes together with just four ingredients (not counting the fish, hehe). All you need is white miso, mirin, and sesame oil. It’s also REALLY easy.
It’s a recipe born of necessity—those nights when I realized it’s 8:30, and I haven’t eaten dinner yet. There’s no complicated blackening technique, no fancy Japanese sake. It’s just a really easy weeknight fish recipe you can make in a pinch.
Don’t Hate Me for This “Japanese” Inspired Miso Fish
Okay, by now, I’ve caught some flack for my shortcut Japanese recipes. See my easy miso soup, where it took folks about 2.1 seconds to call out that I should never boil my miso.
I would like to clarify that this is absolutely true. However, I also am a stubborn little thing that likes piping hot soup, so I haven’t really changed my recipe or what I do when I’m cooking for myself…
Spoiler alert, this is another one of those recipes. Japanese chefs, avert your eyes! If you want a more traditional miso-glazed fish recipe, you should head over to Just One Cookbook, where Nami and Mr. JOC will tell you everything you need to know about superior miso handling and elite Japanese fish marinating techniques. Check out their Miso Black Cod.
This is a shortcut that came together after I had high hopes to make miso black cod, but never could quite muster the energy or forethought required.
But I like miso fish! I really do. So, when left to my own devices and a Costco-sized bag of mahi mahi fillets, I came up with this easy alternative recipe that I’ve made countless times.
No Burned Miso Fish!
I know that miso fish is typically baked in a very hot 400°F/200°C oven, but I find it’s always a little too blackened, even if I follow the instructions.
And I don’t know about you, but my apartment oven houses all of my other pots and pans. To bake one fillet of fish, I have to schlep allll of my cookware from the oven to the kitchen table before preheating it and THEN cooking the fish.
This is a stovetop recipe. The key is low heat, and not adding additional sugar to the marinade, as many call for, because it’s really not necessary, and that just puts you in danger of burnt marinade and burnt fish. (Even if you do wipe the excess off with your fingers before adding it to the pan as is convention. Also—why waste miso??)
What Fish to Use
My favorite fish to use for this recipe is mahi mahi. It’s versatile! I can blacken it Cajun-style and pretend I’m on a beach in Maui, cut it into chunks, sear it, and make delicious fish tacos, or make this miso fish. It’s a sturdy fish that stands up to the abuse of a slightly careless cook and doesn’t fall apart when squeezed into a corn tortilla.
If you don’t have mahi mahi, I would opt for your preferred white fish (e.g., seabass, cod, haddock, halibut, etc. Just keep in mind the cooking times will vary for flakier fishes.) You could also try this with salmon! I haven’t yet made it, but it should work well.
I get my frozen mahi mahi fillets from Costco. I know individually wrapped fish fillets feel at worst wasteful from a plastic perspective and at best, kinda indulgent. But, they are extremely handy when you’re cooking for 1-2 people. It’s why this recipe is enough for one 6- to 8-ounce fillet of mahi mahi and no more.
One spoonful of miso, one spoonful of mirin, and half a teaspoon of sesame oil (a brief drizzle), whisk it together. (A mini whisk is really clutch for this job.) Plop in the fish, turn it over a couple of times, and that’s it. Just use the Serving Number slider in the recipe card to multiply as needed.
From there, you need a minimum of two hours of marinating time. The workaround that makes this possible is that I make cross hatches in the fish, allowing the marinade to penetrate as if I had marinated it for much longer.
Sometimes, I marinate it for as little as two hours, and sometimes when I’m really on my game, I prepare it in the morning or night before.
How I Eat This Fish
- Over my quinoa rice with some stir-fried spinach or kale and a side of kimchi. (The bodega around the corner from me is run by a Korean family, so I have an inside track to a Korean mom’s homemade stuff.)
- With white rice and plenty of dried seaweed sheets to make little “sushi” bites like this.
- With a side salad, drizzled with some olive oil, white wine vinegar, and a liberal pinch of flakey salt—or if I’m feeling ambitious, a dressing of fish sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and garlic from this recipe, plus a little sliced shallot in either case.
Meal Prep Tips
This is a meal-prep-friendly recipe. That said, I don’t think mahi mahi stores very well after cooking. It can take on a fishy characteristic if left too long.
I’ll only pre-cook enough fish for 2 or maybe 3 days worth of meals, but no more than that. As for how long you can leave the marinated fish—no more than 2 days in the fridge. On the second day, the marinade starts to draw too much water out of the fish.
Oh the things we eat when no one is looking…
That’s plenty of ranting and raving for one day. Onto the recipe! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.
Miso Fish Recipe Instructions
Make sure your fish is thawed. You can put it in the refrigerator the night before. The morning you want to eat the fish, whisk together the miso, mirin, and sesame oil.
Using a paring knife make a few large hash marks in the fish so the marinade can penetrate.
Swish the fillets in the marinade until fully coated.
Place the fish in a container or shallow bowl, and cover with a lid (or my trick to avoid plastic wrap—an overturned plate), and marinate in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the neutral oil and the fish (it should lightly sizzle). If it’s sizzling intensely, reduce the heat. If you have a splatter screen you’ll want to get it out for this recipe. Otherwise, just let it happen and wipe down the stove after you’re done cooking.
Cook the fish for 4 minutes. Once you get a golden burnish on one side, flip, and reduce the heat to medium/medium-low if needed to ensure that the marinade doesn’t burn. A little bit of dark caramelization around the edges is okay, but the goal is to avoid burning the miso.
Cook for another 2 to 2.5 minutes. The middle should be just cooked and still a little juicy if you gently peek inside the fillet with a fork or chopstick (try to do this without ripping it in half).
Serve with a grain and some veggies for an easy lunch or dinner!
- Make sure your fish is thawed. You can put it in the refrigerator the night before. The morning you want to eat the fish, whisk together the miso, mirin, and sesame oil.
- Using a paring knife make a few large hash marks in the fish so the marinade can penetrate. Swish the fillets in the marinade until fully coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the neutral oil and the fish (it should lightly sizzle). If it’s sizzling intensely, reduce the heat.
- Cook the fish for 4 minutes. Once you get a golden burnish on one side, flip, and reduce the heat to medium/medium-low if needed to ensure that the marinade doesn’t burn. A little bit of dark caramelization around the edges is okay, but the goal is to avoid burning the miso.
- Cook for another 2 to 2.5 minutes. The middle should be just cooked and still a little juicy if you gently peek inside the fillet with a fork or chopstick. Serve with a grain and some veggies for an easy lunch or dinner!