Miso is a Japanese soybean paste. While it seems pretty straightforward when it comes to ingredients: soybeans, salt and rice...it is incredibly complex when it hits your tongue. That's because those simple ingredients have been combined with aspergillus orzyae bacteria and aged for 3 years.
The end result is what many consider to be the very pinnacle of "umami", which the Japanese call the fifth taste (after salt, sour, sweet and bitter). Umami is described as savory. When miso is used as a marinade for the scallops, "savory" and "sophisticated" are likely the first two words you will utter...as well as "f*cking awesome". This Mark Bittman recipe serves four.
1/2 cup white miso
2 tablespoons chardonnay
1/2 cup minced onion
Salt and cayenne pepper
1-1/2 pounds scallops*
Juice of one lime
*See here for a quick primer on buying sea scallops: http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2011_11_01_archive.html
- Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
- Put miso in a bowl. Add wine. Whisk until smooth, adding more wine if needed. Stir in onion, a pinch of salt and of cayenne. Combine scallops, let sit 10 minutes.
- Grill scallops, turning once after 2 minutes. Grill for 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with lime juice and serve.
Wine pairing: Chardonnay. A Ramey if you are really lucky.