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Written in fine print beneath the title of a recipe: Serves 4 to 6.
Oh, this recipe makes enough for four people, and I’m only cooking for myself tonight… I guess I’ll keep looking.
This was the scenario I found myself in night after night when I first began cooking. At the time, I had decided that I wanted to get in the habit of daily preparing meals for myself. I knew already that I enjoyed cooking, and I wanted to develop a practice around this hobby that would allow me to focus my time and energy exclusively on self-care – something I really needed, in those days.
I wanted to be able to plan my meals around recipes that appealed to me in cookbooks and magazines, but I was constantly hindered by this obstacle that lurked on every page: Serves 4 to 6. I couldn’t understand why, no matter where I looked, I could not find recipes that would show me how to prepare a meal to serve one diner. I mean, having friends over to share a meal is great, but nobody does that every night – why were recipes not acknowledging that many of us have to cook for only one or two the rest of the time?
Eventually I gave up on recipes altogether, realizing that I was never going to find exactly what I was looking for in the pages of any book or magazine. I began to regard printed recipes as sources of inspiration that could teach me new techniques or ingredient pairings. Once I made this shift, the number of options for meals I could prepare, whether for just myself or a full table of guest, expanded infinitely.
This Miso Salmon was one of the first ‘Serves 1’ meals I perfected. I believe my original inspiration came from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook, wherein he describes liberal use of a miso butter concoction across myriad dishes in the Momofuku kitchens. I like to smear a thick coat of the salty umami-rich miso butter over a piece of fatty fish before roasting the fish in a hot oven. As the fish cooks, the fat from the salmon oozes up and mingles with the creamy miso butter as the miso butter itself begins to melt and char. It’s such a crazy simple dish – only three ingredients – and yet it works so well, making for a beautiful meal that could easily serve a single diner or a crowd.
Serves 1 or more
This recipe makes much more miso butter than you will need to use just for the salmon here, and that’s a good thing. Keep it on hand in the refrigerator for up to a year. I like to melt a bit of miso butter over pan-roasted brussel sprouts or mix some into scrambled eggs.
6 tbsp (84g) butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp (90g) white miso
1 4-6 oz. salmon filet (per person)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Make the miso butter: Mix together the butter and miso in a small bowl until well combined. Transfer to a storage container.
Roast the salmon: Spread a heaping spoonful of miso butter over the salmon filet and spread until you have an even 1/4″ layer. Roast on highest rack in oven for 6 minutes, then switch on the broiler and broil for another 1-2 minutes until the miso butter is golden brown.
Today I’m introducing a new segment to the blog called Kitchen Hacks, where I share with you some of the little tricks I’ve learned that can help you get in and out of the kitchen in less time and with less mess. Let’s kick things off with a simple trick to help you poach a perfect egg.
I don’t know about you, but I always found poaching to be the trickiest of egg preparations to master. If you don’t have a perfect technique down, you end up asking a million questions to figure out why your egg didn’t turn out right. How hot was the water supposed to be? How should I know if it’s done? Where did all these whispy whites come from? Why does my egg look scraggly instead of smooth? And then there are the myriad tips that you hear about poaching an egg – add vinegar! don’t add vinegar! swirl the water! – which are supposed to help, but instead making the process more complicated.
Here’s a way to make things less complicated: use your microwave. Okay, okay, I know microwaving an egg is not sexy, but once you see how well it works I suspect you’ll be a convert. Even after mastering a proper poached egg on the stovetop, I still use the microwave most often to poach my eggs. Why? Because the microwave produces consistent results that are difficult to replicate with a pot of boiling water.
This makes sense when you compare the environment of a pot of boiling water to that of a microwave. The boiling water is volatile, and the temperature can fluctuate based on the heat of the stove and the temperature of the egg introduced; each time you boil water for an egg the conditions differ slightly. A microwave, on the other hand, produces the same temperatures at the same rate every time it is used, making it an incredibly predictable and, as I said before, consistent tool.
So go ahead and give your microwave a try next time you want to poach an egg. In less than two minutes you’ll have a beautiful egg, with silky yet firm whites and a perfectly creamy yolk. Thanks to this little trick, I find myself cracking open an egg a bit more often, and I hope you will, too. Enjoy your poached egg with crumbled bacon on a salad of mixed greens, broken over a platter grilled seasonal vegetables, or (my favorite) served for breakfast overtop leftover mashed white sweet potatoes.
Perfect Poached Egg (In the Microwave)
Makes 1 poached egg
The one tip I will endorse from the millions recommended for poaching a perfect egg: strain your egg. Adding vinegar or swirling the water isn’t tremendously useful, but straining the egg in a slotted spoon does make a noticeable impact. The bit that is strained off is the more watery part of the white that might otherwise end up as stringy whisps in the water.
1. Fill a small bowl with 2-3 inches of water.
2. Crack the egg over a slotted spoon and allow the watery part of the egg to drain off. You can jiggle the spoon a little to help, but you don’t need to force the egg through. Slide the egg into the bowl of water.
3. Microwave on high for 1:20 to 1:40**. The egg is ready when the whites have turned opaque but still jiggle slightly.
4. Remove egg with slotted spoon and serve immediately. (If you plan to cook another egg in the same bowl after the first one, start with cold water again.)
**Know your microwave! They are not all the same. Don’t worry if your egg cooks in only a minute – perhaps your microwave is much stronger than mine. Watch through the window the first time you microwave an egg to figure out exactly how long it will take.