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Steamed Fish with Scallions and Ginger


Fish symbolizes abundance and that is why steamed fish is always served at Chinese New Year dinner celebrations. And for purity, taste, and texture there is no better way to cook fish than by steaming. Purchase a whole fish--the freshest possible---and have it cleaned (scaled, gills, and innards removed) with the head and tail left on (including the dorsal fin at the top and the caudal fin at the end) for best flavor and presentation. If you are squeamish about serving a whole fish--and I know a few people who are--then you should still purchase a whole fish, but have it filleted on the spot to guarantee freshness. (Don't even think of using frozen fillets for this dish!) Also, remember to adjust the cooking if you've had your fish filleted. In either case, the secret is not to overcook. To perk up the color of the traditional green onion garnish, I often add slivered hot chilies or sweet red or yellow peppers. Steamed fish may be paired with any stir-fried meat or poultry dish, or for an all-fish dinner, serve with Lemon Garlic Shrimp (page 60), and Mussels with Black Bean Sauce (page 67).

1 1/2 pounds whole pickerel, red snapper, trout, or sea bass, cleaned and scaled
1 tablespoon dry sherry
3 tablespoons finely shredded fresh ginger
3 whole green onions, finely shredded

SEASONING LIQUID
Combine in bowl:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil


Rinse and pat fish dry with paper towels. Place in a heatproof dish that will fit in wok (I use a Pryex pie plate.). Rub each side of fish with sherry. Put half the ginger inside the fish. Set aside.

Place a rack in wok; fill with water to bottom edge of rack. Cover; bring to a boil.

Place a rack in wok; fill with water to bottom edge of rack. Cover; bring to a boil.

Place the heatproof dish continuing the fish on rack over boiling water, cover, and steam for 15 minutes on high or until cooked through. The fish is cooked when a sharp knife is easily inserted into the thickest part of fish and it comes out clean. Do not overcook.

Using 2 metal spatulas, gently lift fish out of heatproof dish, leaving behind liquid that has accumulated under fish. Place on heated serving platter (the platter must be hot or the fish will cool by serving time.) Scatter remaining ginger and green onions on top of fish.

Meanwhile, heat seasoning liquid until rapidly boiling (it must be very hot) in a small saucepan. Drizzle over entire surface of fish and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings


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