Tag Archives: steamed

Chinese Steamed Fish

Chinese food has something of a bad rep in the UK, greasy Friday night takeaways being most people’s only experience of it. This is something completely different – a fresh, healthy and exciting recipe that is only distantly related to sweet & sour and chicken chow mein. The original recipe for the fish is a Ken Hom recipe, again something we found on the BBC food website! We’re putting our own twist on it by serving it with a big dollop of stir-fried veg with some cracking flavours.

For 2 people, you’ll need:

  • 2 fillets of white fish
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Small thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, chopped into thin strips
  • 1 pak choi & other mixed veg (we used another pak choi, cabbage, 1/2 courgette, 1 green pepper, 200 g babycorn & mangetout)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150 g white rice
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (different from Ken’s recipe – we love the flavour but it’s strong!)

Start by putting two pans of water on to boil – one for the rice and one to put the steamer on. While these are coming to the boil, prepare the fish; dry it off with some kitchen paper, rub it with the sea salt and arrange it in the steamer, on top of a few leaves of pak choi, and sprinkle over the ginger. Don’t worry if the fillets overlap – ours was packed in there pretty tight.

We somehow wound up with rather more than 2 fillets!
We somehow wound up with rather more than 2 fillets!

Fish In Steamer With Ginger

Once the water boiling, put the rice in one pan and a couple of minutes later put the steamer on the other one – we found that the fish took about 10 minutes to cook, though this can vary depending on how densely packed it is in the steamer and how tight the steamer fits on the pan! When it’s done it should be opaque and flaky, but still lovely and moist.

While that’s all cooking, chop up the rest of your veg and make up a sauce with the oyster sauce, fish sauce and 1/2 tbsp of the light soy sauce. Heat the oil over a high heat in a wok and add the garlic, stirring for 10 seconds or so before you add the veg. After 30 seconds add the sauce, and mix together thoroughly so that everything is coated.

Stir-fry Veg

Stir Fry Action Shot

When everything is cooked, serve onto warm plates. Drizzle the remaining light and dark soy sauce over the fish, and sprinkle over the spring onions. Now for some excitement! Heat the groundnut and sesame oil in a frying pan over a high heat until smoking, and pour over the fish – you should get a satisfying sizzle.

Chinese Steamed Fish

That’s all there is to it. This dish has some great umami flavours, and is super fresh and healthy. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

How To Cook Whole Fish

This will be less of a recipe post and more of a getting you over your fear of whole fish post! Loads and loads of people stick to fillets because in lots of ways they are easier – no/minimal bones to deal with, no head, but you miss out on loads of flavour from cooking a fish whole! Mackerel is a firm favourite with us. Bird grew up in Brighton and the fishmongers on the seafront sell the freshest mackerel there so it was a regular dinner from a young age. This is one of our favourite ways of cooking any sort of whole fish, it’s easy and results in moist fish which just falls off the bone. We kept it simple flavour-wise; mackerel is beautiful with stronger flavours like harissa but for this meal we used lemon thyme, a few slices of fresh lemon and some salt and pepper.

To start give the fish a quick wash under cold water and dab dry with some kitchen paper. When you’re buying whole, fresh fish then the main things that we look for are a good shine on the scales/skin, red gills and bright eyes, not dull or clouded over. Once the fish is washed lay it on a chopping board and make 2 or 3 slashes into the flesh down the sides, cut right down to the bone. This will help the fish cook evenly, and make it easy to get any lovely flavours into the fish. We placed a couple of small sprigs of lemon thyme in the slashes and then a couple more sprigs inside the cavity along with a couple of thin slices of lemon. We then seasoned the skin on both sides with sea salt and black pepper.

Mackerel raw

Now grab yourself a length of kitchen foil (about 50cm). Put the fish in the middle of it and bring the foil up to form a bag, rolling the edges over several times to get a tight seal while leaving a good bit of space around the fish so it can steam. An average-sized mackerel will take about 20-25 minutes to steam in the oven at 180-200°C – remember that it’s cooking from cold and will take a while to start steaming.

Serve with whatever you like! We had ours with some roasted baby potatoes, and then asparagus and tender stem broccoli which we blanched for 30 seconds and then whacked in the oven with the potatoes to finish cooking – they retain some bite this way and get a little crisp on the ends. To eat our fish we get a large plate ready for the bones and scrape the top fillet off (the meat should fall off the bones), then pick the whole of the skeleton up from the tail end and slowly peel away which should leave the bottom fillet with very few bones still in it… easy!

Mackerel dinner

Thai Style Steamed Sea Bass with Jasmine Rice

In an attempt to counteract the large volumes of cakes/sweets/biscuits we have been consuming over the last few weekends and will probably continue to consume (it’s practically the law when you have guests or are a guest that you have to set yourself well on the track to diabetes) we’ve been getting super healthy with our evening meals. Thai and Vietnamese style food just screams healthy to us – the fresh, spicy, clean flavours are exactly what we need. This recipe, steamed sea bass with jasmine rice and stir fried vegetables, is particularly virtuous. The fish is wrapped in pak choi leaves and steamed over a fragrant liquid while the vegetables set you well on your way to 5 a day (and the jasmine rice is just lush – don’t try to take our carbs away, you might lose your hand!). This one was a make-it-up-as-we-go-along number, as so many of our recipes are, and we’re chuffed with how it turned out! It was also our first time using our new bamboo steamer and we predict we’ll be getting lots of use out of it.

Ingredients

Basmati rice

  • 1 tsp jasmine tea leaves or 2 jasmine tea bags
  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • A piece of ginger, about 2-3 inches long, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 limes
  • 2-3 pak choi
  • 1 birds-eye chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick of lemongrass, bruised and chopped in half
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • A selection of vegetables (we used baby corn, pak choi, mange tout, carrot, sugar snap peas XXX), sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Neutral oil such as sunflower or vegetable

Brew the tea for the rice by placing your loose tea or tea bags in a jug and pour over half a litre of boiling water. Allow to brew for at least 5 minutes. Once brewed pour into a saucepan (making sure to strain it if using loose leaf tea!) and top up with more boiling water if necessary, then place over a medium heat to bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling add the rice and stir occasionally until cooked.

Jasmine Tea

Fill up a saucepan (over which you can fit your steamer) about a third of the way full with water. Throw in half of the ginger matchsticks, the chilli, the lemongrass, the garlic, half of the fish sauce, half of the sugar and the juice of half a lime. Bring this to the boil.

Frozen chilli

Meanwhile cover the bottom of the steamer with a layer of pak choi leaves and then lay the sea bass fillets on top. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and sprinkle the fish with the other half of the ginger. Place another layer of pak choi leaves on top so that the fish is completely covered. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer then you could easily use a metal vegetable steamer, or just buy one – they’re dirt cheap in Asian supermarkets. Once the steaming liquid is bubbling place the steamer over the top. The fish will take around 5-10 minutes to cook depending on thickness, about the same amount of time as the rice.

Seabass raw

To make the sauce for the stir-fried vegetables mix together the oyster sauce with the remaining fish sauce and sugar, the juice of half a lime, a few drops of sesame oil and enough water to thin it out.

Vegetables raw

When the rice and fish have a few minutes of cooking time left get a wok really hot, add 1 tsp of neutral oil, throw in the vegetables and stir to coat in the oil. Once coated and beginning to wilt throw in the sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are slightly soft but still retain a lot of crunch.

Then just dish it all up! Spoon some of the delicious steaming liquid over the fish, it should be just cooked and really moist with delicate Asian flavours. Sit back and feel smug at just how healthy you’ve been!

Steamed sea bass complete