Steamed fish with lemon and olive oil is simple enough to make any day of the week, and elegant enough to serve on a special occasion. If you want to cook more than one fish to serve more people, a steamer with two or more baskets will really save you time.
Letting the fish marinate in the seasonings and spices is crucial to allow the flesh to absorb the flavors. To help the fish soak up the spice rub, score it on both sides. And remember to season the cavity too.
How long should should the fish marinate? For a 600-gram fish, an hour should be enough. Pompano is used in this recipe, it’s a rather flat fish, so, in a hour, the seasonings had reached the innermost part of the flesh.
If your fish is heavier in weight or if you’re using a rounder fish (meaning the flesh is thicker) the marinating time should be adjusted.
Steamed whole fish with lemon and olive oil
- 1 600- gram whole pompano - or your fish of choice
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
- ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil - plus more for drizzling
- juice of one ½ lemon
- fried garlic - optional
- lemon slices - optional
- cilantro - optional
- Score the fish: Lay it flat on a chopping board. With one hand pressing down the fish to keep it from sliding, take a sharp knife with the other hand and hold it at a 45-degree angle. Slash the fish, twice or thrice depending on the size, on both sides. How deep depends on the thickness of the flesh. I like depth of my slashes to be midway between the skin and the rib (spine).
- Mix together the salt, pepper, ginger, garlic and lemon zest. Rub all over the fish including the cavity.
- Place the fish in a covered container and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Pour water into the steamer pan and start heating.
- Take the fish out of the fridge.
- Smear the bottom of a heat-proof plate with half a teaspoon of olive oil.
- Place the fish on the oiled plate and drizzle the remaining half teaspoon of olive oil over it (If adding a bed of spinach which is optional, spread the squeezed spinach on the plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the fish on top of the spinach.)
- Steam the fish for 30 minutes.
- Take the fish out of the steamer.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and more olive oil.
- Optionally, garnish with fried garlic, lemon sliced and cilantro before serving.