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Dinner Tonight: Korean Roasted Fish

Roasting a whole fish can still feel daunting for me, and I'm not sure why. I cook whole chickens and five-pound hunks of pork without much issue. But as Pat Tanumihardja describes in this NPR story, much of that might have to do with the fact that I didn't grow up with much whole-fish dishes in my life. "It turns out that many Americans (my husband included) get a little queasy at the sight of head and tail on the table," she writes. I'm not exactly squeamish, but I do feel much more comfortable with fillets.

What really sold me on this recipe was the sauce. I imagined it, sweet, spicy, and syrupy, coating every crevice of the fish. And the best part was that most of the ingredients were just Asian pantry staples that could be found at most Asian grocery stores. I had to buy some fresh ginger and garlic, but other than that I was ready to go.

Oh, and I needed a fish. The author recommends trout, mackerel, or branzino. My local Korean market had a great deal going on with mackerel, and I managed to snag one for less than 5 bucks. The sauce did turn out as well as I had imagined, but it's the crisp skin of the fish that I really loved. The fish gets a high-heat broil in the last couple of minutes, and that really adds a load of flavor. It doesn't make for the most elegant preparation, but that didn't really bother me.

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