Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cooking the Book - My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen - Steamed Fish (Jing Yue)

Every now and then, I get tired of cooking beef, chicken and pork. I realize that could count as sacrilege in some culinary circles, but I had fish on my mind. So after work, I stopped into Paul Anthony’s to see what sort of bounty of the sea they had on their fish counter. I know that it’s not a sustainable fish, but a nice sea bass filet caught my eye. With fish in tow, I headed home to make something resembling dinner.

I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do with my fish, I was thinking steamed Chinese style. Having had a good measure of success with steaming lobster, I turned to my copy of Eileen Yin-Fei Lo’s cookbook, “My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen”. Wouldn’t you know, I found something right up my alley with her recipe for Steamed Fish or Jing Yue.

Right off the bat, I had to modify the recipe.

Lo called for a 1 1/2 pound fresh whole striped bass, and as you can see, I just had a large filet. Ignoring this little detail, I decided to cut the filet into large chunks.

Now it was time to work on that marinade.

For those familiar with Chinese cuisine, there’s a lot of old favorites here. 2 tbs light soy sauce, 2 tbs shao-shing wine, 2 tbs scallion oil, 4 tbs shredded ginger, 1 1/2 tsps sesame oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp white pepper and lastly 1 1/2 tsps white vinegar. The recipe gave the option of Chinese white rice vinegar or distilled white; not having any white rice vinegar, it was distilled white for me.

The fish was quickly introduced to the marinade and left to soak it all up for 10-15 minutes.

After a quick marinade, the fish was ready for the steamer.

10 to 15 minutes of steaming and I was ready to see how the fish had turned out.

At first glance, this dish looks to have been a great success.

I’ll admit, I was feeling lazy. I didn’t feel like getting putting the extra tablespoon of scallion oil on the fish, or the sliced scallions, or the sliced coriander.

Even with my laziness, I think it turned out well. The fish was flakey, tender, and not at all overcooked. Thankfully, even with my inaction, the marinade has turned out perfectly. So, with minimal work, I had ended up with a dynamite dinner, thanks to Lo and her great cookbook.

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