A light, steamed fish dish with big, bold flavors


Share
Posted Online: Jan. 08, 2013, 10:15 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By Sara Moulton
The first time I had to test a recipe for steamed fish was back in the '80s, when I was working in the test kitchen at Gourmet magazine. And truthfully, the very idea seemed preposterous.

Steaming anything over water always had struck me as boring. And the idea you could count on a good result by applying such an intense method to a protein as delicate as fish seemed highly unlikely.

But the recipe in question relied on the Chinese method of steaming fish, and I became a believer the very first time I tried it. As is typical in Chinese cuisine, the secret is in the seasoning. Given their blandness, fish are a wonderful canvas for intense ingredients such as ginger, chilies and toasted sesame oil. Steaming them concentrates and amplifies their flavors. And an added bonus is steaming requires very little fat.

This recipe works wonderfully using any thin fillet of fish, including char, catfish, trout and striped bass. And if you increase the cooking time, you can swap in any number of thicker fillets, including cod, sablefish and halibut. How do you know when the fish is cooked? Stick a knife through it. If it goes easily through, it's done.

For this recipe I chose tilapia because it is a sustainably-raised farmed fish. I prefer American-raised, as the quality is much higher than imported.

Ideally, you'd cook this fish in a Chinese bamboo steamer. But if you don't have one of those, you can use a collapsible metal steamer lined with foil. I love those steamer baskets. They are great for steaming vegetables as well as meat, fit into most saucepans, easily store and are virtually indestructible. I'm still using one I bought during my college days.

This recipe is quick, healthy and delicious. You might want to think of it as a jumping-off point for other steamed fish dishes. In fact, if — like most of us — you're recovering from a month or two of holiday overindulgence, this little gem could enter your regular rotation as a lighter dish for the new year.

Chinese-Style Steamed Tilapia
Start to finish: 40 minutes (10 minutes active)
Servings: 4
5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons sake or dry sherry
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/4 pounds tilapia fillets, cut into 4 portions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
3 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 large jalapeno chili or 1 serrano chili, very thinly sliced crosswise


In a small bowl, whisk together three tablespoons of the soy sauce, the sake or sherry, ginger, two teaspoons of the sesame oil and the cornstarch. Transfer the mixture to a zip-close plastic bag, add the tilapi, then shake to coat the fish with the marinade. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Fill a medium saucepan with about one inch of water. Fit the pan with a steamer basket, then line the basket with foil. Coat the foil with cooking spray. Bring the water to a boil.

Remove the fillets from the bag, then arrange them on the foil, folding if necessary to make them fit. Pour the marinade over the fish. Cover and steam the fish for three to six minutes, or until just cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over high, heat the vegetable oil until hot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, three to five minutes. Add the scallions and chili and cook for another minute. Stir in the remaining two tablespoons of soy sauce and one teaspoon of sesame oil. Transfer the fillets to plates and spoon the mushroom mixture over them. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 330 calories; 170 calories from fat (52 percent of total calories); 20 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 70 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 30 g protein; 830 mg sodium.

















 



Local events heading








  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




(More History)