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Chinese Steamed Fish (Restaurant Style)

Growing up in a Chinese household meant that we had steamed fish quite often. The fish is always served whole: eyes, tail, skin and all. For a child with a wild imagination, this was traumatizing. I never looked forward to dinner when I knew fish was on the menu as I dreaded looking at the poor thing. Even worse was that the fish looked so unappetizing with the soggy and limp green onions and ginger that garnished the fish.

A few years ago when I was looking for Chinese New Year recipes, I stumbled across a steamed fish recipe that delivered a tasty steamed fish that rivals those served at fancy Chinese restaurants. I have made this steamed fish for my family countless times and received rave reviews.

This recipe works well for either a whole fish or fish fillets. I have successfully steamed whole tilapia, sole fillets and basa fish fillets.

The little man loves this steamed fish recipe. I like pairing this steamed fish recipe with a vegetable dish such as blanched gai lan to serve as part of a multi-course meal.

Ginger and green onions: (left) for steaming (right) as garnish

1 whole fish, descaled and cleaned (or fish fillets)
3 stalks of green onions, cut to 3 inch pieces
3 inch piece of ginger, sliced into 1/8 inch thick

Green onion and ginger garnish and sauce

1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
Black pepper to taste

1 stalk of green onion, sliced thinly
2 inch piece of ginger, julienned finely
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a large pot, set up a steamer, a steaming rack or an inverted shallow bowl. Fill the pot with water so that the water comes just below the steamer.

A steaming rack can be easily found at Chinatown.

2. Bring the pot of water to a boil and turn the heat down to medium.

3. Line a plate with half of the green onions sticks and ginger slices, making sure it is evenly distributed. Place the whole fish or fish fillets on the bed of green onions and ginger slices.

Distribute the green onion and ginger evenly.

4. To steam a fish:
Whole fish: stuff the remaining green onions and ginger slices inside the fish.
Fish fillets: place the remaining green onions and ginger slices on top of the fish fillets.

I would recommend not overcrowding the plate like I did as I say, not as I do. ;)

5. Check the water level in the pot and add more water if necessary. Lower the plate into the pot.

6. Cover with a lid and steam on medium heat according to the times below.

Whole Fish: 12 minutes (for 1 lb) and 2 minutes for every extra 1/2 lb
1 inch or thicker fillets: 10 minutes and 2 minutes for every extra 1/2 inch
1 inch or thinner Fillets: 5 minutes

7. To check for doneness:
Whole fish: check that the fish flakes off easily near the top fin.
Fish fillets: check that the fish is white and not opaque.

8. In a small bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar and black pepper. Mix and microwave for 45 seconds.

9. When the fish is cooked, discard all the green onion and ginger slices and transfer the fish to a clean serving plate.

Discard the ginger and green onions used to steam the fish. Arrange on a serving plate.

10. Pour the microwaved sauce over the fish.

The sauce is delicious over rice. Mmmm...

11. In a small saucepan over high heat, pour the vegetable oil. As soon as the oil starts smoking, remove from heat and add the julienned green onions and ginger.

Watch out for oil splatters!

12. Stir fry until fragrant, about 20 to 30 seconds. Pour over the fish and serve immediately.

Simple and delicious.

Source: Slightly adapted from Steamy Kitchen

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