Monday, September 14, 2009

Steamed Fish in Soy Sauce

I noticed that most of my recent posts that are considered main dishes are either using pork or beef meat. So this time around, I want to prepare a lighter and of course, healthier dish made from fish. Since I recently bought a very nice “picnic seabream” (“bitilya” in Pilipino and “tharaliya” in Sinhala) from the seaside store, I thought making it into a steamed dish will be a welcome change. For the last five years, our local cook has never served steamed fish in our meals, so I believe everyone in our group will be excited and truly delighted to eat such food we have not had for quite a long time.

Whilst there are many variations in preparing steamed fish, the one using soy sauce and usually served in Chinese restaurants back in Manila (Philippines) is my top choice. It is perfect for my taste buds and it really titillates my palates. Every time we order it from any good restaurant, expect the waiter to take out clean plates with only bones in it. Yes, even the eyes of the fish will be declared as “Missing in Action”. And the bones, if only can be re-arranged, could be used in school as an effective science tools in understanding the anatomy of fish. :-)

Picnic seabream (Acanthopagrus berda) are fish belonging to Sparidae family. They are usually dusky grey above, silvery on sides and have blackish fins. Since my fish is somewhat reddish, it may be red sea bream though the body suggests that it is picnic seabream. Generally, seabream live in shallow temperate waters and are bottom-dwelling carnivores. They like coastal sandy or muddy areas and usually feeds on benthic invertebrates. Most species possess grinding, molar-like teeth and they can grow up to 75 cm. Most importantly, they are often used for human consumption. Just like what we are going to do in about an hour.

Clean the fish by removing the scales, guts and gills. It’s quite difficult removing the scales of this fish weighing less than a kilo. But thinking of the delicious dish it will provide after I steamed it in soy sauce; I continue scraping and washing until it’s all ready.

The first set of ingredients needed compose of just: 1 tsp of sugar dissolve in 1 tbsp of rice vinegar and 1 inch ginger, peeled and julienned. Arrange the steamer or a big wok with prop on the middle to hold the plate of fish while steaming. Drain the fish and pat dry using paper towel and place in a plate. Evenly pour the rice vinegar mixture on top and inside the fish cavities. Arrange the ginger pieces on top and place the plate inside the steamer. Start steaming the fish and continue until it is fully cooked. It should be soft inside when poke with fork. The bream took about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce ingredients. In a small bowl mix 3 tbsp of soy sauce, 3 tbsp of water, 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, 2 ½ tbsp of sugar, ½ tsp of sesame oil and ¼ tsp of white pepper. You should have this exotic looking sauce.

Likewise prepare some more aromatic ingredients as follows: 1 inch ginger, peeled and julienned, 2 stalks green onion, chopped and a small bunch of coriander, chopped (which I don’t have at the moment). In addition, you will also need about 2 ½ tbsp of vegetable oil.

Take the cooked fish from the steamer. Discard the ginger and the fish liquid all together. Carefully place the fish in a big serving plate and arrange the fresh ginger on top of the fish.

Heat the oil in a small sauce pan and pour the hot oil on the fish. In the same pan, heat the soy sauce-rice vinegar mixture until bubbly. Then slowly pour the hot soy sauce mixture on top.

Finally, sprinkle the chopped green onion and coriander on top. Serve at once with steaming rice. This is really good. Try it, no need to go to your favorite Chinese restaurant to have a taste of a fantastic Chinese steamed fish. A request using “lapu-lapu” (grouper) is already booked. c“,)

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