Steamed fish is a super popular dish in Hong Kong households.
It is "the" ultimate dish. I can be shooting out gorgeous dishes and desserts outta my ass, but to sous chef's parents (and other parents would agree), if I haven't done any successful steamed fish, that means I can't cook.
There's gotta something about steamed fish that makes it so popular. OK, it's healthy (-er than the fatty food I normally cook), when done right, the meat's delicate, satiny smooth, the sauce kicks you right in your face with beautiful flavors, and the garnishes hitting every part of your palate.
So, why haven't this dish appear in my blog sooner?
I've been dying and fearing to try steaming my own fish for a while...but knowing my track record of failures, I thought I was bound to ruin the fish. I was afraid of the prospect of rough and dry overcooked fish no garnishes or sauces can hide.
I wanted to try something that's different from the normal soy sauce poured over steamed fish garnished with chopped spring onions (real reason was, I can't afford having my initial attempts being compared to sous chef's mom's glorious versions, so, I had to make it different. HAHA)...so I went for citrus. Citrus and fish....they're bff.
- 1 medium sized pomfret (one of my favorite fish, minimum bones, maximum succulent flesh. or I also like snapper)
- 3 cm ginger, crushed, divided
- a bunch of corriander
- 1 lemon (juice and zest)
- 1 small clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 small clove of shallot, sliced
- 2 small red chilli, chopped
- olive oil, fish sauce and sugar
- hot water for steaming
Clean fish, stuff it with a couple slices of lemon zest (peeled using a peeler, not grated), a few pieces of corriander roots, and 1 cm ginger, put fish on a plate, add a few lemon slices on top and scatter some corriander roots around the fish too.
In a large wok/sautee pan (it needs to be large enough to place a plate upside down, with a plate of fish on top, covered), bring 3-4 cups of water to boil, place a small place upside down in the water (or you can use those small metal stand to hold your plate). The upside down plate/metal stand should be able to support your plate of fish, it should be tall enough so that it won't be completely submerged in the water or your plate of fish might be floating around and swim back into the sea (hehe, lame joke), and it should be low enough, so that the cover of the wok can completely cover the whole thing without touching the fish.
Whew! I should've taken some step by step pictures to illustrate this.
While the fish is steaming...
For how long?
For smaller fish (around 25 cm), I steam them for about 7 minutes. I steam larger fish (around 30cm) for 10-11 minutes.
How do I know if the fish is done?
Try cutting the thickest part of the fish flesh with a spoon, it should easily go through and hit the fish bone.
So, while the fish is steaming, prepare the rest of the ingredients for the sauce/topping.
Reserve a few slices of lemon. Saute garlic, chilli, ginger and shallot in tiny bit of olive oil, add a generous amount of fish sauce, add about a teaspoon sugar, squeeze lemon juice, mix well, taste and adjust until you achieve a perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour, and hot.
Once the fish is done, add freshly chopped corriander, lay a few pieces of lemon and pour the sauce over fish.
Satiny smooth, succulent meat, with citrusy, kick-me-in-the-face spicy sauce.
Oh, one more thing.
You already know this.
Never overcook the fish.
If you did, give it to that neighbor you always hated (who knows, they might like it).