I’m sure you know how much Chinese restaurants charge for Cantonese steamed fish. Rather than spending in excess of £20 to £40 on this one dish, why not prepare it at home instead? It’s really simple, according to my mother, and very healthy for you. You can steam any type of fish, but Chinese people usually like whole fish – sea bass, turbot, halibut or sole, to name but a few.
What to do:
- It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to steam a normal-sized whole fish. If the fish is too large or quite thick, then cut it in half (as above). After cleaning, descaling and gutting the fish, make 3 shallow slashes diagonally on each side, then rub in some salt and wine vinegar. Rinse with water after 15- 20 minutes. Doing this will remove the smell of the fish as well as add more flavour to it
- Add boiling water, about 5 cm or 2 inches, to a large wok or pan. Place the fish on a metal platter or dish, which sits on a metal rack inside the wok or pan. Place very finely sliced or shredded ginger and spring onion on top of the fish and cover the wok or pan with a lid. Steam for 10 to 15 minutes until just cooked. It really depends on the size and thickness of your fish
- When the fish is ready (you can test it with a fork or chopstick), pour away the sauce, ginger and onion bits. Add a bit of salt and white pepper, a few drops of lemon juice or white wine and light soy sauce (not too much to start with, in case you make the fish too salty).
- Heat a pan, add some vegetable oil and fry more finely sliced ginger and spring onion for a few minutes. Pour all this on top of the fish, and place some cooked pieces of spring onion under the fish as well. Eat while hot with steamed white rice!
- NB If the flesh near the backbone is still a bit bloody, then just avoid eating this part. Unfortunately, if you cook the fish a bit more at this stage, the entire fish will end up being overcooked. It’s hard to get the fish absolutely perfect each time and even my mother doesn’t always manage this!
See my recent post on my favourite Cantonese home-cooked meals for my mother’s other recipes.
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