What fish is good for this dish? Any fleshy fish. Has to be whole though. It’s tempting to use fillets, right? No bones to pick and no fish head to intimidate people who prefer sterile-looking seafood. But so much flavor is lost if you substitute fillets.
The wood ears, you can get fresh or dried. We love fresh but it’s not as easy to find so we keep a jar or two of dried wood ears that we simply rehydrate and trim before cooking. For more about rehydrating and trimming wood ears, see the linked post below.
Now, about the plate. You’ll need one that can withstand the intense heat inside the steamer. Definifely no plastic plate.
Will a large dinner plate do? I suggest you check what’s written on the back of the plate. If it says it can go into the oven, it is good enough for the steamer. And if it’s microwavable, is it good enough for the steamer too? I’d say no.
Steamed whole fish with wood ears
- Rinse the fish well and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Score both sides.
- Rub the fish with salt and pepper, including the cavity.
- Start heating about three inches of water in the steamer.
- Julienne the wood ears.
- Core, deseed and julienne the bell pepper.
- Lay the fish on a heat-proof dish (see notes after the recipe).
- Scatter the julienned wood ears and bell pepper on top (yes, some will fall around the fish and that’s fine).
- Mix together the soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic and sugar. Pour over the fish.
- Drop the plated fish in the steamer basket and steam over briskly boiling water for 20 to 25 minutes depending on the size of the fish.
- Drizzle sesame oil over the fish and, optionally, garnish with torn mint leaves, before serving.