Steaming is very much an Asian thing. And it is a popular method for cooking whole fish. If you have a steamer large enough to hold the plate that contains the fish, use it. Otherwise, just take a large pan (a wok is good) and pour in about 4 cups of water. Place a heatproof bowl in the water and arrange the plate on top of the bowl. The bowl makes sure that the plate is far enough from the water so that none splatters on the fish.
Ready-to-used black bean sauce, available in Asian groceries, was used here. Fermented black beans, more easily available than the sauce, may be substitued. Rinse, drain and grind into a paste before using for this dish.
Pompano was used in this recipe but just about any firm and fleshy fish can be substituted. Note, however, that cooking time will be highly dependent on the thickness of the fish.
Note, too, that you need to score the fish before seasoning it in preparation for the steaming. The how and why is fully explained in a separate post.
Once you’ve scored the fish, spread the black bean garlic sauce on one side. Then, place it on a heatproof plate, seasoned side down, and spread black bean garlic sauce on the opposite side.
Thinly slice some garlic and ginger, and scatter all over the fish. For best results, stuff some of the ginger and garlic into the cavity as well. The fish is now ready to go into the steamer.
Meanwhile, julienne a piece of carrot and some scallions. When the fish is done, top it with the carrot and scallions. As a final touch, smoking hot sesame seed oil is poured over the fish before serving.
Steamed pompano with black bean garlic sauce
- 1 whole pompano - about 600 grams (or other firm and fleshy fish), gutted and cleaned
- 2 tablespoons black bean sauce
- 2 cloves garlic - thinly sliced
- 1 thumb-sized piece ginger - thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch scallions - julienned
- ½ small carrot - julienned
- 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
- ¼ lemon
- Score the fish by making two to three diagonal incisions about half an inch deep. Turn the fish over and make incisions on the opposite side as well.
- Spread a tablespoonful of black bean sauce on one side of the fish.
- Place the fish, seasoned side down, on a heat-proof plate or platter.
- Take another tablespoonful of black bean sauce and spread on the top side of the fish.
- Scatter the garlic and ginger all over the fish. For best results, stuff some of the ginger and garlic into the cavity.
- Steam the fish for 30 minutes over briskly boiling water.
- When the fish is done, scatter the carrot strips and scallions on top.
- Heat the sesame seed oil until smoking then pour all over the fish.
- Squeeze a quarter of a lemon over the fish and serve the steamed pompano by itself or with hot rice.