Chinese Steamed Fish (Yu are so good)

So you guys have seen Celinabean’s recipe for steamed fish, right? It was absolutely drool-making and seemed right up my alley when I felt just a wee bit family-sick after being down and with them for so little time this week. Family-sick. What? You use homesick, right? Well, family-sick is the same thing, only with family. Ok, so any way – I really wanted more tasty Chinese food, and I even went to the Hong Kong Bakery, but forgot they were closed on Tuesdays. So what the hey, instead of using my lucky money to buy one meal, I was one going to make one for just a little bit of it.

I plopped some frozen dumplings onto a lightly oiled (1 T peanut oil) high flame, and cooked them until they were well browned. After that, I reduced the heat to medium and tossed in 2/3 C of water and covered. Cook until water evaporates. This was a lot of water, so I might do 1/2 C next time since the freezing process gives off water when I cook them.

After letting my porgy sit in a bath of water with some salt, I stuffed the dickens out of him with cilantro, Chinese chives and ginger. Next time I’ll forgo the chives (they didn’t add much/any detectable flavor) and up the cilantro and ginger. Use lots of ginger. Probably a 2 inch piece.
Guess how much my fish cost? As you can see, it is a rather large porgy that flops a bit over the edges of a dinner plate. Following Celina’s advice, I went to the Asian Food Market on Colvin to get a big porgy and at $2.99/lb, let me tell you – what a great deal! I paid $3.53 for this, and they even scaled it and gutted it for me. Yay! I washed it off and found a few errant scales, but those guys behind the counter really know what they’re doing.

Mmm, yummy. But next time double the cilantro. At least double. They’re only $0.75 per fresh baggie at the AFM, and this was MAYBE 1/3 of it. Yummy, yummy. I think next time I’ll score the skin on top and stick in some ginger and layer cilantro on there as well. Don’t be afraid of loading this baby up – it’s not as bland as tilapia, but the cilantro and ginger really enhanced the fresh sweetness of the fish.

I’m not a big Heinekin fan like my Yeh-Yeh, but I did pick up a 6 pack of Singapore-based Tiger lagers. Something like $7.69 each, and I thought they were pretty good.

So you’ve got a caffeinated Albany John who is running around the kitchen trying to stick his paws into your precious fish and put an Albany John spin on things. But you are all “NO, GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN. WELL OKAY, YOU CAN MAKE THE VEGGIES. AND CAN YOU CUT SOME GINGER BECAUSE MY HAND STILL KIND OF HURTS AND YOU’RE BETTER AT IT ANY WAY.” Why do I yell so much?
Any whoooo – you put him on veggie patrol, and he whips up some napa cabbage cooked with garlic and some pepper. Yum, it’s still crispy. And at $0.59/lb, napa cabbage is a dirt-cheap and delicious side dish. My favorite!

Yay, now those dumplings are finally done, and so yummy. Chewy and crisp, with a porky filling. I even tried to arrange them all pretty-like for y’all, and this was one of the only pictures that wasn’t blurry as all get out.

Oh, and a quickie cucumber salad with home-pickled red onion. You can’t leave an Albany John in the kitchen too long without him coming up with something.

After dousing your fish with something like equal parts soy sauce and sweet vermout, and letting it steam over medium heat (again, Celina’s advice rocks) for about 15 minutes, our fishy-fish-fish was ready to eat. And btw, this is all the same plate that I used for stuffing the fish. No extra fish plate dishes. Just make sure you figure out how to get the plate out of the pot (I used a wok, and barely had any wiggle room to wedge my fingers in) without spilling the sauce. Thankfully I didn’t spill a drop. The dumplings tasted REALLY good dipped in this sauce, lemme tell you! And also over rice, and with the fish flaked off and soaked in it, eaten with rice… you don’t want to lose a drop of this goodness!

So yea, here’s the gist of the fish:
1 Fish, gutted and scaled
Cilantro (1 baggie, or a big fistful)
2-3 inches of ginger, peeled and sliced 1/16″ thick
Sweet Vermouth
Soy Sauce
Opt: let fish soak for a bit in some salted water to brine. I might play around with this more and see if I can infuse some flavor as well.

Stuff the cavity of the fish with ginger and cilantro (or whatever else you want, it’s your fish) and use tooth picks to close.
Pour equal amounts of soy and sweet vermouth onto fish, so you’ve got about 1-2 inches of space on the border.
Steam over medium heat 12-15 minutes if around 1 lb.
Carefully pull out and eat. Yum!
This fish would have been more than enough for 3 people, and good with other dishes for 4-5 people. We ate all of the fish, but that’s just because it was so good, and you know it won’t taste nearly as good the next day.
So gung hey fat choy again, ya’ll. This will totally cure any blues you have.
Oh, and the AFM folks speak mandarin, not cantonese. Whoopsies :/ Gong xi fa cai to you!
  1. llcwine said:

    That looks soooooooo good…what do you think about adding some lemongrass inside the cavity or thin slices in the slits in the skin.I think I’ll have to get the the AFM tmrw…Yum

  2. lemongrass sounds so good too, llcwine! Give it a try! Alb John isn’t a fan of lemon grass (he can’t really taste the flavor, kind of like me w/the chives) so we don’t usually use it. How much lemongrass do you think you’d use? A couple sticks? Peeled down and cut?

  3. I’m not a fish fan. however, i would sell my mom into white slavery for those delish dumplings. And what is it about pickled veggies that make them taste even better. SB and I went to Miyako on thurs and he let me eat all the pickled ginger off his sushi platter

  4. Third Auntie said:

    Gung Hay Fat Choy from Third Auntie. I LOVE steamed whole fish. My mother always steams a fish for me when I go home to visit.When we cook the fish, we spread some mashed soy bean paste on the fish, sprinkle liberally with slivered ginger, a little splash of soy and steam it in a shallow soup bowl or seving dish, never on a flat plate. When the fish is done steaming (the eyeball should be completely opaque), scatter some thinly sliced scallions and chopped cilantro over the fish. Heat a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil till smoking and drizzle that over the fish. So simple but so delicious. I love spooning the juices over my rice.

  5. ellie said:

    Your pickled onions are soooo good!

  6. Anonymous said:

    We have this utensil that’s sort of a tong-like thing. I tried to google an image but I couldn’t find one. So forgive the poor description:It’s sort of like a metal claw with a sliding hinge. There is a circular handle with a hole for your finger at the top and a plastic shield underneath, then the 3 claw-like prongs. As you slide the shield down the shaft, the claw opens and as you slide it up, it closes. At it’s most open point, the claws will fit around the sides of a dinner plate and allow you to gab it out of the wok.You can find it in an Asian grocery store, I bet.

  7. Grace said:

    i can’t deny the fact that whole fish gives me the willies. i think it’s the eyes. and scales. and itty bitty bones. more for you! 🙂

  8. llcwine said:

    AJ,One stick sliced thin should do it… husband relly dislikes cilantro (yeah hard to believe I married him). I almost bought a frozen whole red snapper at Price Chopper today…but put it back…as I was raised…that fresh is best…so I either have to get to AFM or another quality fish store.

  9. Oh wow, how cool. I’m glad everything worked out. You inspired me so I made gyoza tonight. It is my son’s favorite meal, so he thanks you, too.

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