This from a lesson I gave several weeks ago and just getting to writing about it now. People tend to get freaked out about fish if I can be colloquial here... They say fish comes out 'dry.' Or they overcook it. Yes, that WILL make it dry. Or they avoid cooking it altogether. I'll admit to having had similar concerns. Fish is delicate but also firm. One of my favorite ways to cook fish is to steam it. No more problem with dryness. Do you have a steamer? Just that metal thing that folds up, eh? Well, if you absolutely have to, but don't forget that you will have to cut up the fish to fit around the sides of the circle. Not the best solution. Bamboo baskets with lids are made for the purpose of steaming. You need to line the baskets with something, like cabbage leaves, or you can steam on a plate inserted into the bamboo steamer. Or, if you have a wok, you can place something like a tin can (empty) on the bottom, then place what you are steaming in a plate on top of the can, cover and steam. Or, get a cake rack you can place in the wok. There are also the three-tiered steamers that I like the best and can be found in some Thai groceries; they're inexpensive and made out of aluminum. Or, be inventive - sometimes that's the best way to go - use what you have. Take the challenge.
STEAMED FISH WITH GINGER AND SCALLIONS
This is simple and delectable. Enjoy it with some stir-fried bok choy and garlic slivers, and freshly steamed Jasmine rice. Or a boiled potato that has been boiled in soy sauce and dashi...oh, yes.
1 to 2 pounds of a fresh whole fish or fillets (mostly white-fleshed fish)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons rice wine or sherry (Shaoxing, Sake)
Make certain that the fish you purchase can fit in the steamer you have or trim it to fit.
Smear the fish with wine and salt and let sit 5 minutes. Place the fish on a plate and place in the steamer that has water boiling gently at its bottom. Steam the fish on the plate until done which should be about 7 to 12 minutes, maybe a little more. If you are using fillets you can easily see that the fish is now opaque. Done. While it's steaming you can make the sauce or make it before steaming. Up to you.
1 Tablespoon roasted sesame oil mixed with
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (grapeseed, sunflower, olive)
1/4 cup, or to taste, fresh ginger, peeled then finely julienned
1/4 cup scallions (about 3), groomed white and green parts, finely julienned
3 Tablespoons good quality soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or any sweetener (not artificial though)
2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Garnish: cilantro leaves, chopped
Heat the oils to hot in a small saucepan or frying pan add the ginger and stir fry briefly, add the scallions and continue heating, about 5 seconds. Turn off the heat. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Keep the sauce hot. When the fish is ready pour it over the fish. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and/or raw scallions.
Now that was fairly simple to accomplish. Let's try another one. The lesson included baking a whole fish in a piperade (pea-purr-ahd). A piperade is a combination of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions. A piperade is most frequently mixed with eggs. Here we make the piperade, pour it over the whole fish, and bake it. You can add some almost-done boiled potatoes to the pan.
RED SNAPPER OR STRIPED BASS WITH PIPERADE
2 onions, thinly sliced, about 3 cups
1/4 cup olive oil
2 green bell peppers or poblanos, gutted and cut in strips
4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tomatoes, peeled and deseeded, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon, or to taste, sea salt
1/2 teaspoon, freshly ground black pepper or Aleppo pepper
1/2 ground cayenne pepper, optional
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 fillets with skin, or a whole fish, cleaned
parsley, 4 stems
Preheat 450 F. degree oven.
Use a mandoline to slice the onions. Warm the olive oil and add the onions, peppers and garlic to cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.Stir in the tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar. Cover and reduce the heat. Stir occasionally until all the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Taste the piperade for seasoning.
If you are using a whole fish make three angled cuts on each side. Coat the fish with some olive oil, salt and pepper, outside and inside. Stuff some parsley stems into the fish and maybe a few slivers of garlic, too. Take a ceramic or metal baking pan, smear a little oil where you are going to place the fish, then place the whole fish, or the fillets skin side down, in the pan. Smother it with the piperade. Place into the hot oven and bake about 15 minutes. Take out and check for doneness. Remove the parsley from the fish. Place the fish on a warmed platter and spoon the piperade over it. Garnish with chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve hot.
If you don't want to cook the fish in an oven then use a nonstick pan with warm oil. Place the fish in the pan and cook until the skin is crisp and golden, about 2-3 minutes. Turn it over and cook until it is opaque, about another 2 minutes. Place the piperade in the center of a warmed platter. Lay the fish on top. Garnish and serve.
Whoopie! Dinner! I know you want a picture. And I want to prepare this again. If anyone does make this dish do me a favor take a picture and send it to me.
Okay, one more for now.
FISH IN PARCHMENT
This dish consists of slightly sauteed ingredients, some liquids, and then put into a parchment or aluminum pouch and sealed. you can make the pouches in advance then refrigerate them. Bake in the oven on a sheet pan for about 10-15 minutes. Take out the pouches and place on a warmed platter. let each person open their own pouch so they can experience the waft of steamy aromas. What you add to the pouch is your own choice. The list here contains just suggestions.
Preheat the oven for 400 F.
Salmon or other filleted fish
Carrot, cut julienne strips or tournee, lightly sauteed
Turnip, cut julienne strips or tournee
Snow peas, strings removed, lightly sauteed
Roasted garlic or garlic slivers
Chopped shallots, slightly sauteed
Tofu, cubed, or cubed and grilled
Scallions, 2-inch pieces, slightly sauteed
Potato, peeled, cubed and blanched
Fish broth, white wine or sake
Basil or thyme or parsley leaves, whole or chopped
Lime or lemon juice and zest
Thin slices of citrus
Oil or unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
Take a combination of ingredients, not too much, not too little, add some liquid and some fat, salt and pepper each element. Cut the parchment in a heart shape or use a sheet of aluminum foil. Put your selection of ingredients on one side and seal well (according to your instructors instructions). You can refrigerate them at this point. Take them out of the refrigerator and pop into the oven about 15 minutes before you want to serve them. Place on a sheet pan and bake about 10-12 minutes. The parchment should puff up. Serve in the pouch.
We made a few more things but I'm tired and hungry now and, besides I am not going to give you all my fish recipes. And President Obama is giving his State of the Fish Fry speech tonight. So later.