If you're like me, you cook well enough for yourself, and for loved ones you've given up trying to impress. But when guests are due, you'd like to seem more sophisticated than you actually are.
Here's the answer: an Asian-inflected fish recipe that tastes complicated, but requires only enough brainpower to start things a day early. The actual sophisticates who introduced me to this recipe used black cod, but this will work for 1 pound of salmon fillets.
Heat ¼ cup of sake and ¼ cup of mirin (a less-alcoholic rice wine available at most Asian groceries) on the stove until boiling. Remove from heat after 15 seconds or so, and mix in 3 tablespoons of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of white miso paste (also available at Asian groceries). Pour into a shallow dish with lid, setting aside a bit to drizzle on later.
Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then place in dish and cover. Refrigerate for a day or so, flipping the fillets a couple times while they, and you, are chilling.
When it's time to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees and fire up the grill. Lightly brush excess marinade from fish, then grill until both sides are just brown. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes. Heat reserved marinade to thicken, and drizzle over each fillet before serving. Then bask in your newfound, and wholly undeserved, reputation for culinary skill.