Steamed Fish with crunchy fried garlic
Sunday, January 30, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Fish is a definite must-have during Chinese New Year dinners.”Yu”, as it is known among the Chinese, sounds like the word for ‘wish’ and ‘abundance’, and hence serving fish at the end of the New Year’s Eve meal symbolizes a wish for abundance in the coming year. The fish is normally served with its head and tail still intact as this is symbolic of a good beginning as well as a great ending for the next year.

What I love most about fish is that it doesn’t possess much taste by itself, and so depends heavily on the ingredients cooked along with it to make it a tantalizing dish. Hence, it is very important to cook the fish the right way along with the most perfect blend of ingredients. Steaming is definitely one of the easiest, fuss-free way to cook fish. It gives the fish a soft, tender texture with a fresh, neutral taste that is enhanced by the gravy ladled generously over it. The most common fish used for steaming are usually the tilapia, pomfret and the marbled goby, also known as ‘soon hock’.  Please do bear in mind that this method works best with fresh fish. If the fish has been left in the fridge for some days, I would recommend deep-frying them instead.

Some of you might be unsure about the techniques of picking fresh fish from the supermarket. It’s really simple actually. I would advise you to go for whole fishes instead of fish that has been cut into pieces and sold in pre-packaged trays. This is because it is quite difficult to determine their freshness once they have been cut. When checking the fish, always observe the gills and their eyes. The gills should be bright red and the eyes should be clear and fresh. If they have a reddish tinge to their eyes or they look cloudy, then they are not fresh. Secondly, the fish should have a firm body. When you apply some pressure on the body of the fish, it should not sink in and leave an indent on the meat. Also, the fish should not have a ‘fishy’ smell, forgive the pun. If you put the fish close to your nose, it should not put you off. The fish should have a clean smell that reminds you of a breezy day at the sea. Now that was pretty simple, wasn’t it?

When steaming the fish, some people prefer to add some shavings of ginger into the tray and on the fish. This works well in disguising any fishy smell besides giving the fish a mellow, gingery flavour. If you prefer to eliminate the ginger, it’s fine as fresh fish normally have a more subdued smell. The secret of steaming the perfect fish is surprisingly simple- firstly, ensure the water in the steamer is already boiling before you add in the fish, and secondly, use the freshest ingredients, from the fish right up to the herbs. You’ll be amazed at the result simple actions such as these will have on the end product.




Steamed Fish with crunchy fried garlic

Prep time: 20 mins

Cooking Time: 10 mins

Serves: 4


1 large Pomfret (about 1kg), cleaned and guts removed

6 cloves garlic, skin removed and finely diced

1 inch ginger, skin removed and thinly sliced

4 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

coriander and spring onions for garnish


1. Stuff sliced ginger inside cavity, on top and below the fish

2. Bring steamer to a rapid boil and gently place plated fish and ginger into the steamer. Cover steamer with lid and steam for 10 minutes over high heat. After 10 minutes, remove from steamer

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in pan over high heat 

4. Add garlic, pinch of salt and sugar and saute garlic until golden brown

5. Remove golden brown garlic from oil 

6. Using remaining oil from fried garlic, combine with soy sauce, sugar and residue from steamed fish. Heat over high heat until sauce comes to a boil

7.  Discard ginger from steamed fish

8. Pour heated sauce over fish

9. Garnish with fried garlic, spring onions and coriander

10. Serve with white rice


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