Soy Sauce Steamed Fish, 清蒸鱼
A simple classic dish you can make every day
This is a classic dish in any nice Chinese household, enjoyed in many regions of China. It was something we’d have at least once a week growing up. You can use any type of white meat fish, including carp, flounder, sea bass, etc. In this recipe, we'll use 側魚.
1 whole fish, white meat (e.g. carp, flounder, sea bass, etc.)
First, descale the fish and remove the guts. Most grocery stores will do this for you if you ask nicely.
If you have to do it yourself, the best way to descale a fish is to use a metal scrub (like the kind to wash a wok). To remove the guts, cut a slit along the bottom of the fish and remove anything that isn’t fish meat.
Once descaled and gutted, you can cut diagonal slits across the sides of the fish as seen in the following picture. This will help open up the fish to easier steaming later on.
In a sink, open the bottom of the fish and pour boiling water in to cleanse the inside of the fish.
Hang the fish to dry before preparing dish. Place the fish into pan that can be steamed.
Place the fish dish into a steamer pot. You’ll want to add ample water to the bottom of the pot for steaming, but not so much to overflow into the dish containing the fish. Notice I’ve elevated the dish with a metal platform in the photo. Close the lid, turn the heat on high, and let the fish steam for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the fish. Resist the temptation to open the lid! You’ll let out all of the steam. I’d just set a timer and trust 🙏.
While the fish is steaming, slice a couple of scallion stalks near the root. You only want the white parts. You can save the green part for other dishes.
Slice a couple of pieces of ginger into fine strips.
Now get your rice wine and soy sauce ready! Here are the brands that we use.
In a separate pan or wok, heat up some oil. You want the oil very hot and you will know it is done when you cannot even hold your hand 6 inches from the oil.
When the time is right, check your steamer. The fish will be ready when the meat easily falls off of the bone.
If absolutely necessary, you can check from the slits made previously, though take care not to ruin the form of the fish
Cover the fish with the sliced scallions and ginger.
Pour the hot oil over the garlic and ginger. The oil should be so hot that it makes a sizzling sound on contact. Otherwise, the oil is not hot enough and should be reheated.
Pour rice wine and soy sauce over the fish for the desired taste. This is typically very light (not too much).
That’s it! Serve it with a side of rice and enjoy! I love taking the extra sauce and pouring it over my rice for added flavor.
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