A traditional Japanese breakfast often consists of fish, rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables. Image source:
Flickr CC user Jun Seita
I’ve traveled a lot, but nothing compares to the cultural experience of staying in a Japanese ryokan. Ryokans are a type of traditional Japanese inn that come with meals and spa treatment included, and have been around since the Edo period. They are also where I first experienced the wonders of a Japanese breakfast: a healthy, filling, and protein-rich feast usually consisting of fish, rice, miso soup, and pickles (or tsukemono, as they are called in Japanese). Not only was a traditional breakfast the perfect way to start the morning, it was delivered directly to my room. In my quest to find healthy breakfasts that I can prepare ahead of time, I’m looking back to those days at the ryokan and cooking up a Japanese-style breakfast of trout and pickled vegetables the night before.
Miso-Glazed Trout: A Healthy Alternative to Bacon and Eggs
I love waking up to the smell of sizzling bacon, but that is a luxury I usually reserve for lazy Sundays. During the week I need something quick and protein rich to power me through the morning. Trout is rich in both protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a mild flavor that I think makes it a great fish for the first meal of the day. You can also substitute it for another white fish, or for whatever fish you happen to have leftovers of in your fridge. I also love this glaze on cod and rock cod, and if you’re up for a slightly stronger fish flavor in the morning, salmon would work well here, too.
You probably know that fish is good for you, but I was amazed to learn about all the health benefits of miso. Because it’s fermented, it’s rich in enzymes and probiotics, it’s a complete protein, it aids digestion, and it can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. It is often consumed in Japan for breakfast or at the end of a large meal, like that sushi fest you just broke the bank on.
Miso trout goes excellently with warm, fluffy white rice in the morning. My rice cooker has a warmer setting so that I can put it on at night and wake up to fresh rice in the morning. If you don’t have this luxury, you can always make a larger batch of rice and reheat it as necessary.
Miso Glazed Trout
Turn oven to 350 F. Combine miso, brown sugar, and sake (or mirin) in a shallow baking dish, whisk until smooth, and place fish, skin side down, in marinade. Allow fish to marinate in refrigerator about 30 minutes. Bake fish in marinade (just pop the dish you used to marinate the fish into the oven) until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
In the meantime bring honey, lime juice, and rice wine vinegar to a boil and simmer until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. When the fish is done cooking, remove it from the marinade and pour the glaze over fish. Allow to cool, garnish with sesame seeds and store in an airtight container. Miso glazed trout can be eaten warm or cold. This recipe serves three.
** If you are using already cooked fish for this recipe, simply skip the marinating and baking steps, combine ingredients in a pot, make a glaze and pour it over the leftovers.
Don’t Forget the Pickles
I love pickles. They add crunch and acidity to a dish and in this case are a nice compliment to the salty sweetness of the miso. The Japanese often serve their breakfast with a small bowl of pickles: cucumber, eggplant, ginger, plums--you name it, they probably pickle it. For those of us that don’t have their own jars of pickles already lying around, I have a quick and easy recipe for pickled vegetables that will add crunch and acidity to your meal. I like to use carrots, daikon, and cucumbers since they are abundant and available year round at most grocery stores. You could also buy already pickled ginger, usually available in the Asian foods aisle at your grocery store.
Recipe for Quick Pickled Vegetables
Peel and cut your vegetables into uniformly thick pieces, salt the vegetables, and allow them to sit for about 20 minutes. Place vegetables into a container that will hold at least one quart of liquid (glass mason jars or plastic soup containers from your last order of takeout phở work just fine). Bring rest of the ingredients to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over vegetables. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating. Recipe makes one quart of pickling liquid. These pickles are best after 24 hours and will keep for up to a month refrigerated.
Ordering Fish Online for Your Japanese Breakfast
I’m looking forward to breakfast already. I’ll make the pickles and trout on Sunday, maybe some rice as well, then microwave or eat it cold throughout the week. To make your weekly breakfast prep easier, order trout online from Daily Fresh Fish. Ordering online means you’ll know the fish will be is fresh since it skips the grocery store and is delivered straight from the dock to your front door. One of the underlying principles of Japanese cuisine is the freshness and integrity of the ingredients--Daily Fresh Fish sells product that’s fresh, hand cut, and minimally handled. This week, make your home into a ryokan--you may not be able to have your breakfast brought to your room, but you can at least have your fish brought to your home.