from one generation to the next
Steaming a whole fish is a challenge. The fish is easy to buy and so are the seasonings, the hard part is finding a steamer large enough to fit the fish into without having to severely trim the tail or decapitate the beast which totally defeats the reason you bought a whole fish in the first place.
I was fixated on steaming my snapper Asian style with ginger and garlic chives, I had visions of my fish sitting in a bamboo steamer, the clouds of hot moist air rising from the bubbling wok and enveloping it in moist gentle heat. Well, that was theory.
I won’t bore you with all the things that went wrong in my endeavours to create an effective steamer for the fish before my non cooking man simply said “why don’t you use your fish kettle? Why had I been so blind? I blame the kitchen….
If you don’t own a fish kettle, or steamer large enough to accomodate a whole fish, you can create a steamy cooking enviroment by simply wrapping it in foil and cooking it in the oven on a wire rack over a tray. The recipe ingredients will remain the same, although I would suggest making a bed of vegetables such as wombok, or sliced leeks to lay the fish on. They will help generate steam and protect the bottom fish fillet from the heat of the tray.
A delicious food memory from Melbourne, I’d been hankering after fish cooked this way for ages, It’s a simple and restorative dish. Next time I just need to get myself organized a little sooner.
Steamed Baby Snapper with Ginger and Garlic Chives
1 baby snapper about 500g, cleaned and descaled
3 cm ginger cut into fine julienne
2 tablespoons snipped garlic chives
1 tablespoon light soy
1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
if oven steaming: 4 wombok leaves
Mix together the soy, wine, sesame oil and sugar.
Rinse the fish under cold running water then dab dry with paper towel. Line your steamer with baking paper or use a plate to hold the fish.
Slash the fish through the thick part of the fillet, lay into the steamer then pour over the seasonings.
Scatter the ginger and chives over the fish.
Place into the steamer and cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes.
To check if the fish is cooked, separate the flesh in one of the slashes to see if it’s done to the bone.
Serve on a bed of rice with the juices spooned over.
if oven steaming:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Lay two wombok leaves on a large sheet of foil, lay the fish on the wombok then season as above.
Lay the other two wombok leaves over the fish then tent the alfoil over the fish sealing all the edges.
Place in the oven on a wire rack over a tray and bake for 30 minutes or until done