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Steamed Baby Snapper with Ginger and Garlic Chives


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

for two:

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

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

29 comments on “Steamed Baby Snapper with Ginger and Garlic Chives

  1. Rebecca Alexandra
    November 25, 2015

    That looks very good!!!

    Like

  2. Laura McLively
    November 24, 2015

    Wow, what a beautiful fish, and the seasonings sound perfect to compliment the delicate snapper.

    Like

  3. Moya
    November 23, 2015

    Sandra I don’t have a fish kettle but use a large baking tray and foil. Love fish baked this way as it is aways lovely and moist. Your dish looks delicious 🙂

    Like

  4. Gather and Graze
    November 23, 2015

    How funny… as soon as I saw your photo of the whole fish, I was wondering if you’d used your kettle to cook it! 🙂 This dish looks and I’m sure tastes incredible – always impressive when the fish can be served whole like that. Yum!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 23, 2015

      I was caught up in an impractical romantic vision of fishy loveliness, just as well someone in the house has some common sense!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Francesca
    November 20, 2015

    Divine.a perfect way to treat such a handsome and flavoursome fish .

    Like

  6. Eha
    November 20, 2015

    My very, very favourite way of preparing and eating fish! Way back when a friend made me a high-sitting metal trivet for my fish kettle I have used for decades, but for smaller fish usually use biggish bamboo steamers. Googled: Victoria’s Basement has a lovely one on sale for just over $30 with a metal lift out part [meant to be a poacher, so too low for steaming?]. Have not used garlic chives per se: must try 🙂 !!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2015

      My garlic chive s are going crazy, it was a good dish for them. It’s amazing how much garlic flavour they impart. My fish kettle has a lift out tray, and while it looks as if it sits on the bottom, there’s enough clearance to keep the fish out of the simmering water.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eha
        November 20, 2015

        Yes, what a great idea: much more ‘elegant’ than the green onions [‘shallots’] I usually use! As long as today’s 43C here has not put an end to my big pot 😦 !!

        Like

  7. marymtf
    November 20, 2015

    This is a lovely recipe. Even the fish is smiling.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2015

      You will too when you too Mary when you eat it for dinner

      Like

  8. I have a fish kettle on the top shelf in my kitchen, at the very back. Thank you for the inspiration to pull it out and use it. Yum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2015

      Out of sight seems to be where most fish ketttles languish, I guess it’s their size. glad to inspire Liz…

      Like

  9. Karen
    November 20, 2015

    I left many things behind when we moved to Florida but one thing I refused to get rid of was my fish poacher. Now I’ve got your delicious recipe to try…thanks!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2015

      I trifled with the idea of discarding the fish kettle when we moved but it came along only to get shoved onto the back of a shelf. Out of sight out of mind. This is a delicious way to prepare any fish, on the bone or fillets, I hope you enjoy it Karen..

      Like

  10. Lisa @ cheergerm
    November 20, 2015

    Reminds me of my old fishy days when I got to play with fish a lot. This looks just great. Finding solutions can be delightful or frustrating, depending on your frame of mind.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2015

      In this instance, a major frustration! I love fish but don’t cook it enough. It’s usually a safe fall back when eating out…

      Like

  11. ChgoJohn
    November 19, 2015

    I sometimes get so involved trying to solve the problem that I miss the obvious solution. It takes someone else to point it out to me. Talk about irritating. 🙂
    I’ve not cooked snapper in ages. I need to do something about that. Yours looks so very good.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2015

      Thanks John. I also suffer from none so blind than those who cannot see! Steaming snapper really does justice to it’s flavour…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sue
    November 19, 2015

    How delicious this sounds, I love fish but have got in a rut lately – this will get me out of it!

    Like

  13. Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
    November 19, 2015

    Sounds wonderful. I don’t have a fish kettle back in the UK, but I have “steamed” fish wrapped in foil in the oven. I’m glad you gave instructions for both as I noticed that there is a monster fish steamer here in the kitchen in Greece. Now I have an excuse to use it!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 19, 2015

      I don’t use my fish kettle enough. I always steam a salmon for Christmas lunch, but other than that out of sight out of mind. You can steam fish fillets too. The Greeks are renowned for their love of fish, I’m sure you’d find a dear old soul willing to impart her fish cooking knowledge to you

      Liked by 1 person

      • Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
        November 24, 2015

        We had hake plaka-style last night. Lovely and easy way to make fish – steam/baked under layers of vegetables and lashings of green olive oil and lemon juice. It is a great method, particularly when cooking for a crowd.

        Like

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