When the girls were in college and there were just their father and myself at home, it was sometimes tempting to slap cold meat between slices of bread, and declare that lunch or dinner was ready.
Sometimes, but not often. There’s just something about smelling food as it cooks that whets the appetite in a better way. The trick was cooking simple dishes like this steamed fish steak with sweet soy sauce.
What “simple” means, of course, is rather subjective. This is just steamed fish but carefully seasoning the fish steaks at various times during the preparation ensures that despite the apparent simplicity of the dish, the flavor is complex enough to enjoy it with gusto. And adding texture in the form of fried garlic and fresh cilantro and scallions completes the experience.
You’ll need a steamer, of course. If you don’t have one, just drop a rack that fits into your wok or other shallow pan, pour in water and steam your fish in your DIY steamer. You may cook more than one fish steak in a deep plate so long as they fit without overcowding each other.
To simplify the cooking (and washing later) even more, use a heatproof plate. Steam the fish in it, scoop out the liquid that forms around the fish, mix the liquid with the sauce then pour back the mixture over and around the fish.
Steamed fish steak with sweet soy sauce
- 2 fish steaks
- sesame seed oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sweet rice wine Shiaoxing, sake or mirin will all work
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon ginger juice (grate the ginger and squeeze out the juice)
- scallions to garnish
- cilantro to garnish
- Brush the bottom of two heat-proof plates with a little sesame seed oil.
- Lay a fish steak on each plate. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
- Steam over briskly boiling water for 10 minutes.
- So, that’s how the fish will look after steaming. But, while the fish steams, waste no time. Prepare the garnishes and the sauce.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan. Cook the minced garlic over medium heat until golden brown. Scoop out. Save the oil.
- Make the sauce. Mix together the soy sauce, sweet rice wine, sugar and ginger juice.
- When the fish is done, take a tablespoonful or two of the liquid that has formed a pool around the fish and mix that with the sauce.
- Brush the top of the fish steaks with a little of the oil in which the garlic had been cooked.
- Divide the toasted garlic bits into two portions. Top each fish steak with a portion of the toasted garlic.
- Garnish with cilantro and scallions.
- Spoon the sauce around the fish and serve immediately.