November 4, 2009

Steamed Whole Barramundi with Ginger and Shallots; Wombok with Oyster Sauce

I grew up watching my parents cook fish the Chinese way - steamed with ginger and shallots. With Kylie Kwong's "Recipes and Stories" in tow, I gave it my best shot in recreating this childhood favourite at home.

"The naturally sweet, delicate, moist flesh of the fish combines with the aromatic ingredients to create a beautifully balanced, subtle, clean and salty flavour. This dish is an excellent example of the way steaming preserves purity of flavour and texture."

Types of fish suitable for this recipe are snapper, barramundi, bream, King George whiting, silver perch, Murray perch, pigfish, coral trout or red emperor.

- 750g whole fish, scaled, cleaned and gutted
- 1 leaf Chinese white cabbage (wombok), cut into 4 squares
- ¼ cup Chinese chicken stock
- ¼ cup shao hsing wine
- ⅓ cup ginger julienne
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 3½ tbs light soy sauce
- ¼ tsp sesame oil
- ⅓ cup green shallot julienne
- ¼ cup peanut oil
- ½ bunch coriander, leaves only
- Pinch of ground white pepper

Pat fish dry and place on a chopping board. With a sharp knife, make three diagonal slits into the side of the fish, then score in the opposite direction to make a diamond pattern. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side.

Bring a large steamer pot of water to the boil. Arrange cabbage squares in a shallow heatproof bowl, and place fish on top. Pour combined stock and wine over fish, then sprinkle the fish with half the ginger, avoiding the head. Place bowl inside steamer basket over boiling water, put lid on steamer and steam for 10-12 minutes or until fish is cooked. The flesh should be white through to the bone, which will be exposed by the cuts. If flesh is still translucent, replace lid firmly and steam for another minute or so.

Remove steamer basket from steamer, then carefully remove the bowl from the steamer basket. Sprinkle sugar evenly over fish, avoiding the head. Drizzle fish with combined soy sauce and sesame oil, and sprinkle with remaining ginger and half the shallots.

In a small pot, heat peanut oil until it reaches smoking point (This is the most important point of the dish - the oil must be hot enough to 'scald' the ginger and shallots). Slowly and carefully drizzle hot oil over fish. Garnish with remaining shallots, plus coriander and pepper, and serve immediately.

Steamed Whole Barramundi with Ginger and Shallots - Not sure if you can tell, but the fish was actually slightly undercooked, so back it went into the wok to be steamed for a little longer!

Steamed Whole Barramundi with Ginger and Shallots - Excited after my first attempt, I went to House and bought myself a fish-shaped dish for another night of steamed fish - this time perfectly cooked :)

I used the left over wombok to make a simple dish with oyster sauce - Simmer wombok leaves for 1 minute in simmering water (with about 1 tbs of vegetable oil stirred in). Then immediately remove and place on a platter and drizzle with 2 tbs oyster sauce and a dash of sesame oil - the heat will render it into a runny sauce. Heat 1 tbs peanut oil in a small frying pan until it's moderately hot and carefully pour over the wombok leaves.

Chinese White Cabbage with Oyster Sauce


kimithy said...

omg so much effort making vegie stock!
its tastes sooo yummy just reading this!
i think you should have a mini dinner party!

Amanda Chow said...

i think you should go ON MASTERCHEF. like seriously! DO ITTTTTTTT!!!!!!! WE WILL DEF CHEER FOR U!!!!!

Bonnie said...

kimmie i'll have a dinner party soon :) sometime during the new year! and it will be a yummy vegie meal!

manda i WISH i was clever enough for masterchef, or at least a QUARTER way there, but i'm still a newbie to cooking! you gals would b the only ones cheering for me!