Food Network Magazine (April 2010)
This Steamed Fish with Ginger sounded so nice and light and fresh, we knew we wanted to give it a try as soon as we saw it.
Unfortunately for us, this turned out to be a case of too many substitutions. For starters, we couldn't find either white fish -- striped bass or halibut -- the recipe recommends. In fact, the closest substitute we could find at the grocery store was mahi mahi. We like mahi mahi just fine, but we have a feeling that halibut, with its rich, fatty texture, would have stood up to this dish much better than the mahi mahi, which fell kind of flat.
But there was one other, much bigger substitution that may have doomed this dish for us, something that (stupidly) didn't dawn on us until we actually got started cooking the recipe.
"Oh, yeah," we realized. "We don't have a steamer."
Well, okay, we do have a steamer. It's a saucepan insert (similar to this). The problem is, the recipe calls for lowering a plate into the steamer -- a necessity, actually, because you pour soy sauce and rice wine over the fish. Without the plate, the liquid would just fall through the steamer holes. Well, we don't have a plate small enough to fit in our steamer.
So, Plan B: We used a grill basket. It was a good solution -- big enough to hold a dinner plate. The problem with that was, now we had to find a pot big enough to hold the grill basket. We only have one -- our largest stockpot. So we jury-rigged a steamer of our own.
Anyway, it ended up a fine (if precariously balanced) solution. We had to cook the fish about 20 minutes (instead of 6-12, as the recipe calls for) because it was so much farther from the heat source, and because we lost of lot of steam due to our ill-fitting lid.
And actually, the whole dish ended up fine. The fish was okay, the sauce was pretty good, the snow peas were delicious. (Our favorite part, we're a little ashamed to admit, was the pseudo-fried ginger in the final step.) But none of it was all that special, and certainly not worth the effort of cobbling together a makeshift steamer.
Here's how we'd change this recipe: We'd do it in the oven. Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil in a glass casserole dish, throw the fish and vegetables and sauce in there, along with about a cup of water. Wrap the foil up like an envelope and stick it in the oven for 15 minutes. Steam the snow peas separately in the microwave for 2 minutes. Done and done.
Oh, but you might still want to fry the ginger in the final step. That stuff is gooooood.
• 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
• 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 6 scallions, sliced
• 4 (6-ounce) firm white fish fillets (such as striped bass or halibut)
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
• 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
• Pinch of sugar
• 1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
• 1/3 pound snow peas, trimmed
• 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
Set a large bamboo or metal steamer basket over a skillet of simmering water over medium heat.
Crush the ginger slices with the flat side of a knife. Place the garlic and half each of the ginger and scallions on a plate that will fit inside the steamer. Score the fish skin a few times with a knife; season with salt and pepper. Place the fish skin-side up on the plate, drizzle with 2 teaspoons sesame oil and sprinkle with the sugar. Put the plate in the steamer. Mix the soy sauce and rice wine and pour over the fish.
Cover and steam the fish until just cooked through, 6 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness. Carefully remove the hot plate. Add the snow peas to the steamer, season with salt, cover and cook until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the fish to a platter, spoon the juices on top and sprinkle with the remaining scallions. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil and the peanut oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the remaining ginger and cook until it begins to brown. Pour the hot oil over the fish.