There’s a half-used tub of red miso paste in my refrigerator that I have moved eight or nine times. I bought it for…actually, I’m not sure why I bought it. But, it has been a nuisance of late, taking up space in a fridge where I could use more.
During my recent pawing of Pinterest to find a recipe for dinner, I came across a recipe for negimiso, a Japanese paste made with miso (usually a blend of red and white), onion and mirin. Negi itself is a special Japanese onion that, like a leek, does not form a bulb at the bottom. The native version is a little difficult to find here in the Northeastern U.S., so leeks would have to do.
Leeks are delicious, but they are seemingly impossible to clean. Dirt builds up in every possible crevice of the plant. They simply take far too much time to clean. The problem is that every time I’m tempted to buy Wegmans’ cleaned, cut and bagged leeks, I get sticker shock. I can choose between $3.49 for an 8 oz. bag or $2.99 for a whole bunch. The cheapskate in me wins out.
There are a few different versions of negimiso on the web. I went for a variation on one offered by Nami at Just One Cookbook. I trimmed the sugar because I really didn’t want it too sweet. I also added a little more soy sauce at the end to deglaze the pan. The miso paste burns quickly and it’s nearly impossible to keep things from sticking too much without some extra liquid. I probably could have used broth, but figured the soy sauce was just as good.
WHAT WORKED: Chicken thighs. This would be a very easy recipe to use with chicken breasts, but the dark meat stands up to the flavors from the onions, miso and mirin better. White meat from the breasts would have forfeited flavor to the paste.
WHAT DIDN’T: The miso paste. It’s a pain in the ass to clean a pan where miso paste is crusted to the bottom.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “I liked it.” She’s a woman of few words. She also, inexplicably, decided to go back and do curriculum work today. I don’t understand.
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes. I wonder how it would go with a sirloin or a piece of tuna.
Negi Miso Chicken Thighs
Adapted from Just One Cookbook
- 1 cup Japanese Tokyo Negi, green top part, packed (leeks are an acceptable substitute)
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 1/2 tbsp. miso (I went with red miso paste, but a blend of white and red is more authentic)
- 2 tbsp. mirin
- 1/2 tsp. soy sauce plus more if needed
- 5 chicken thighs, boneless
Chop leeks into fine rounds. Rinse thoroughly to clean off all of the dirt off and drain in a colander.
Heat sesame oil in a large frying pan and stir-fry leeks until softened. In the meantime, combine miso, mirin and soy sauce in a small bowl and blend with a spoon. When the leeks are slightly brown and soft, pour the miso sauce over the top and stir to coat the leeks. Keep the paste moving, as miso will burn and stick to the pan. Use soy sauce if you need additional liquid in the pan.
Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add chicken thighs to the bowl and toss to coat. Let chicken marinate at least 45 minutes or up to 3 hours.
Pan-fry the chicken breasts for 6 to 8 minutes each side, OR grill over medium heat for 10 minutes, turning once. Serve with rice.