Weeknight Dinner: Miso Salmon + Learning to Cook for One

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.

Sound familiar?

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.

Tweet: I can't wait to make Miso Salmon from #cookingwithbellson! via @kemayellTweet: I can’t wait to make Miso Salmon from #cookingwithbellson! via @kemayell

Miso Salmon

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. 

Ingredients:

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.

 

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