This one-pan savory fish is one step in the right direction


I recoil at the repentant food chatter that crops up this time of year, dominated by words such as “cleanse” and “detox,” which, from what I can tell, are just modern code for “extreme diet.” But part of cultivating a healthy, balanced life is recognizing when you have been pushing the edges in one direction and then responding by shifting gracefully the other way.

In these first cold months of the new year, it feels good to switch gears, and this dish of fish in a fragrant miso broth with shiitake mushrooms and fresh spinach is a welcome step in the right direction. It’s light and nourishing but also supremely comforting and desirable, crushing the contrived notion that pleasure must now be put on hold in the name of health. It’s also incredibly quick and simple to make, all done in one skillet.

You start by sauteing the mushrooms to brown them a bit and concentrate their flavor. Then aromatics hit the pan — garlic, ginger and scallion — and water and miso paste are added to instantly create a deeply flavorful, savory broth. That broth becomes the poaching liquid for the fish — here, some sumptuously steak-y halibut fillets, but cod would also be delicious. It’s important to keep the liquid to a low simmer so the fish cooks slowly and gently and maintains its tender texture, because it will overcook quickly at a boil. And better to remove it from the broth when it is just shy of cooked through, as residual heat will continue to cook it once it is removed from the pan into serving bowls.

At that point, spinach is added to the skillet where the warmth of the broth takes some rawness out of the leaves yet keeps them fresh and bright. Once the broth with the mushrooms and spinach is poured over and around the fish, dinner is ready. I can’t think of a tastier or more satisfying way to get a fresh start.

Halibut in Miso Broth

This dish of flaky, white fish served in a savory miso broth with shiitake mushrooms and spinach is light and nourishing, but also supremely comforting and satisfying. And it’s done in one skillet, in less than 30 minutes.

Cod or another firm-fleshed white fish may be used instead of the halibut.

2 tablespoons canola or other neutral-tasting oil

2 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, (4 caps total) sliced

3 scallions, thinly sliced, dark-green parts reserved for optional garnish

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons peeled, finely minced fresh ginger root

3 cups water

3 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste

Four 6— ounce skinned halibut fillets (see headnote; may substitute cod)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup loosely packed baby spinach leaves

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are browned. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the scallion whites, garlic and ginger; cook for about 30 seconds, stirring, until fragrant.

Add 2 3/4 cups of the water to the skillet and bring to barely a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. While the water is heating, whisk the miso paste with the remaining 1/4 cup water in a liquid measuring cup until dissolved, then whisk that mixture into the skillet.

Season the fish with the salt and pepper, then place in the skillet, skinned sides down. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes over low to medium-low heat, maintaining a gentle bubbling, until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is fairly firm.

To serve, place one piece of fish in each wide, shallow bowl. Stir the sauteed mushrooms and the spinach into the liquid in the skillet, then remove from the heat. Pour the broth with spinach and mushrooms around the fish in each bowl. Garnish with the scallion greens, if using. Serves 4.

— From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Austin360 Eats

What does cream of tartar do? And other food questions answered
What does cream of tartar do? And other food questions answered

The Washington Post Food staff recently answered questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat. A: Yes, the easiest thing would be to freeze the juice and the zest (separately). - Joe Yonan A: Cream of tartar shows up in retro baking recipes because, as an acid, it helps activate baking soda. (Baking powder combines the...
Recipe of the Week: Meat-free polenta ‘steaks’ with mushroom gravy
Recipe of the Week: Meat-free polenta ‘steaks’ with mushroom gravy

Chicken-fried steak is one of the ultimate comfort foods, but if you’re eating less meat, it can be difficult — at first — to replicate those rich flavors without beef. ”Modern Comfort Cooking” author Lauren Grier didn’t let that stop her. Chicken-fried steak “is something I plunge into on a semi-annual basis...
Britney Spear’s ex K-Fed wants child support increase amid star’s Vegas success
Britney Spear’s ex K-Fed wants child support increase amid star’s Vegas success

After seeing how successful her four-year Las Vegas residency has been, Britney Spears’ ex-husband Kevin Federline is asking for an increase in child support. >> Read more trending news  Federline’s attorney reportedly sent the pop singer a letter recently indicating that he would like to renegotiate the $20...
Actress Nanette Fabray, Tony, Emmy-winning star of stage and screen, dead at 97
Actress Nanette Fabray, Tony, Emmy-winning star of stage and screen, dead at 97

Award-winning actress and comedian Nanette Fabray has died at the age of 97, Variety reported Friday. Fabray was known for her charm, energetic exuberance and multi-talented performances in musical theatre in the 1940’s, as well as movies and TV in the 1950’s. >> Read more trending news  She won a Tony Award for her performance...
For all the right reasons, Charlie Sexton is Austin music’s MVP
For all the right reasons, Charlie Sexton is Austin music’s MVP

In Austin, Charlie Sexton is the man who needs no introduction. Seemingly destined for stardom since his early teenage years, the 49-year-old musician cut his own path instead. Raised in blues clubs and launched into the pop-idol spotlight before he could vote, Sexton ultimately has built a life not as a marquee performer, but as a masterful force...
More Stories