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Miso-Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts with Toasted Sesame

Salty, intensely flavored miso has a bold, almost meaty taste, with earthy, nutty nuances. In this recipe, miso teams up with mirin and sake to make a simple savory-sweet Japanese-influenced marinade for lean, mild chicken breasts.

Ingredients:

  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger 
  • 2 green onions 
  • 1/2 cup white miso 
  • 3 Tbs. mirin 
  • 3 Tbs. sake 
  • 1 Tbs. sugar 
  • 2 Tbs. water 
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 6 oz.  
  • Canola oil for grilling  
  • 2 Tbs. sesame seeds, toasted 

Directions:

Peel the ginger and shred it on the large holes of a box grater-shredder.

Finely chop the white and light green portions of the green onions. Reserve the green onion tops.

In a bowl, whisk together the miso, mirin, sake, sugar, water, ginger and chopped green onions until well combined. Transfer to a nonreactive shallow baking dish.

Using a flat meat pounder, pound each chicken breast half until flattened to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. Place the chicken in the miso mixture and turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours.

Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water. Cut the reserved green onion tops lengthwise into thin ribbons, place them in the ice water so that they curl and set aside.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill and lightly oil the grill grate.

Lift the chicken from the miso mixture and shake gently to remove the excess marinade. Place the chicken on the grill, cover the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until the chicken springs back when pressed in the center, about 8 minutes total. Meanwhile, drain the green onion curls and pat dry.

Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Sprinkle with the green onion curls and toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).