Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Steamed Whole Fish

Cooking fish is always a big deal in my family when it comes to special occasions. There was no special occasion today. I just wanted some fresh fish. Luckily, I live close to a few markets with fresh fish. Now, this is kind of embarrassing, but I didn't know what kind of fish I bought until later. My fish vocabulary is very limited in both Chinese and English. After I cooked it, ate it, and decided to blog, I looked up the fish.

According to this site, I believe I had a trout. Update: apparently it was a sea bass. Anyhow, the method is mostly Chinese (video from this site), with one twist. One day I was in the cookbook aisle of the library and I just happened to find a book on cooking fish. In the book was a recipe that was either baking or steaming a whole fish. Anyway, they used lemon slices and various herbs. So today I wanted to use a bit of lemon too just to see what the result is.

-one fresh whole fish, around a pound, scaled and gutted (thankfully the fish cleaner does this for me). Always use fresh fish for steaming. If your fish isn't fresh try a different fish recipe (frying works on everything usually).
-rice wine, or some other cooking wine
-scallion (one or two whole scallion and a bunch shredded)
-2 or 3 lemon (my own twist!, this is optional)
- ginger, some slices, some julienned
[below for oil topping]
-oil (optional, I skipped this step)
[below for sauce]
-soy sauce
-1/2 tbsp sugar (to taste)
-a few tbsp water

1. Clean fish when you get home, scrape off any scales that the store person may have missed.
2. Cut 2 or 3 slits into both side of the fish, this helps flavor and steam process
3. Rub salt on both side of the fish, as well as inside. Repeat with pepper. Then repeat with a bit of rice wine. Let sit for a while.
4. Fill inside of fish with ginger slices, scallion pieces, and lemon slice halves.
5. Cut whole scallion in two, put a few of these halves on a large plate/dish (big enough for whole fish), then put the fish on top. The scallions will help fish steam since it gives a bit of space under the fish.
6. Get your steamer ready. I use a regular pan with a steamer layer. Fill bottom with water and turn on the heat. Put plate with fish inside steamer. Cover.
7. When water boils, turn heat to medium, steam around 6-7 minutes or more depending on thickness of fish.
- - -
Finishing and Presentation!
1. While the fish is steaming, mix ingredients for sauce.
2. After fish finishes steaming, take it out of the steamer. Top with shredded scallion and ginger.
3. (optional) Heat oil in a pan, pour on top of fish
4. Heat sauce in a pan, pour sauce all over fish

Note: So I discovered that while lemon slices didn't do too much for fish (except maybe neutralize odors for kitchen?), when it combined with the sauce later, the sauce took on a citrus flavor. Take it as a kind of hot and sour fish soup as you will. Delicious! The bottom side of fish got a bit of lemon on it, which is pretty cool.

Guide to cooking live fish

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