Recently I attempted one of my most challenging dishes yet: Steamed Whole Fish with Ginger and Scallions! I’d seen this recipe featured in a YouTube video and during my most recent visit to a local Asian market where they sell extremely fresh fish, I spotted a display of amazing red snapper.
I had the fishmonger scale and gut the smallest one (2 pounds!) and brought it home to cook that night.
The recipe I was following required me to make slashes in the fish’s flesh and marinate it for a couple hours in a mixture of fish sauce and pepper.
Then I placed slivers of ginger and scallions both inside and out of the fish, then place it in a steamer.
Whoops! I don’t have a steamer large enough for a whole two-pound fish no matter what the species. Fact is I don’t have a fish poaching pan either. After all the work I had already put into this recipe the big question was how was I going to cook it.
I ruled out baking it. Even though that would have worked I wanted to try the steamed fish.
I do have a good oven. Why couldn’t I steam it in the oven. Yes, the oven.
The steaming process was the biggest challenge of the cook. The idea is to cook the fish using high wet heat without the fish being in water. I did not want to boil or poach the fish I wanted it steamed.
I have a large baking dish and a rack that fits inside. But by using the rack alone the fish would be sitting in the water. But by placing another smaller plate inside the bigger one then sitting the rack on top it with the fish and tenting it with aluminum foil it made an adequate steamer.
Perfection after 45-50 minutes in a 375 F oven
Set the fish aside to cool slightly after removing the cooked ginger and scallion slivers and replacing them with fresh ones. You create a garlic-infused hot oil to pour over the fish – it sizzles like a fajita plate! – and then a dipping sauce of soy, sugar, sherry, and sesame oil to place around it before serving with rice on the side.
Hands down this is one of the best fish dishes I’ve eaten. The white flesh flakes away in moist chunks, and every bite is lightly infused with garlic, ginger, and scallion. Delicious, and the leftovers, what little there was went into fish tacos for lunch!