Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
Ingredients do not recognize national boundaries -Iron Chef Michiba
So I’ve begun planning for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Oh my. The first thing I thought I would do is the opening appetizer course. Being inspired by Iron Chef Michiba’s grilled cheese aged in miso and sake lees [aka miso marinated cream cheese] from his “Hors d’oeuvre” plate (see: http://www.kaishoku-michiba.jp/info_en/$file/07_2015_kaicourse.pdf ), I thought that it might be something new to try (especially recalling the Basho omakase course that had the red miso marinated cream cheese). But how to go about making it?
There were two references that I came across on the web. First, there was: http://www.madisonoriginals.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/muramotos-miso-cream-cheese.pdf – but that looked really too much on the sweet side. Then, there was: http://www.japansociety.org/webcast/nihon-in-the-kitchen-recipe-5-miso-cream-cheese which looked a little more reasonable. After thinking about it for a while, I put in a call to Omae-san@Morimoto NYC (4:30pm, 11 Jul 2015) and he advised that I use a marinade of:
1 cup shiro miso
1/2 oz sake
1/2 oz mirin
1 T sugar
and so I chose to make a 1/2 batch – which became:
1/2 cup shiro miso
1 T oz sake
1 T mirin
1/2 T sugar
and marinate the block of cream cheese overnight. He suggested I pair matching amounts of marinade to amounts of cream
cheese (i.e. 1 cup marinade to 1 cup of cream cheese slabs- and for the half batch, it meant 4 oz of cream cheese). He told me it
really wasn’t necessary to marinate it for multiple days. He helpfully suggested I NOT use aka miso or moro miso. As for
‘grilling’ a chunk of cream cheese, he thought it might take 3 minutes a side under a salamander. He suggested I use that as a
guide and to watch how the cream cheese behaves under the broiler/grill.
Interestingly, Iron Chef Michiba comments about marinating cream cheese in miso here: http://www.michiba-shunsara.jp/menu/sz004.html – and if you use google translator, it confirms the use of saikyo miso (similar to what Omae-san specified as the miso marinade and similar to the miso Matsuhisa-sama uses in his black cod miso).
I think in this case, I’d use my countertop oven in broiler mode, leaving the oven door open and try to get the slab(s) of cream
cheese as close as possible to the broiler heating unit to simulate the salamander behavior. I expected that I would put the really cold cream cheese onto the grill mesh so that it would quickly grill the outside of the cheese slab and not turn it into a melted mess (and yes, I would pre-heat the countertop oven before grilling).
A day later, I tried to make a sample, took it out of the miso marinade, wiped off the excess and attempted to grill it on the mesh. Two things happened: When I went to ‘flip’ it over, it created a mess on the mesh and almost broke. Secondly, on tasting the sample, I really didn’t get a sense of the miso permeating into the cheese. So I decided to wait two more days. I had three samples left. The cheese was a little on the gooey side – that meant 3 minutes a side was too much.
Two days later, I covered the mesh in non-stick foil, got the cheese slabs out, quickly wiped off the marinade (so they’d still be
really cold when I started grilling them) and put them on the foilcovered grill mesh and popped them back under the broiler, salamander style. I flipped the slabs around at around 2 – 2 1/2 minutes
and grilled the other side for another 2 1/2 minutes (for a total cooking time of 5 minutes). The top of the slabs were just starting to bubble and form a skin/crust. I
then carefully transferred grilled cheese slabs to plates. It occurred to me to let them just sit and rest before serving so that they were cool off a little and firm up.
On tasting this item, I can see why Iron Chef Michiba only serves one small portion on his opening hors d’oeuvre plate course. The item is extremely rich. You definitely get the umami and the sweet/salty hits. A one ounce slab is plenty. My wife also had the experience of tasting the one day marinated vs this three day marinated versions and vastly preferred the three day version. Iron Chef Michiba, thank you for sharing this borderless ingredient concept, and thank you Omae-san for your guidance. This is something I’ll make for special occasions. I’ll retry this dish again when I can get my hands on actual saikyo miso (probably at Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ) to use as the actual marinade. This was a great experience. I can only wonder about trying this wit a creme brulee hand torch…..