Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chinese New Year Whole Steamed Fish

Chinese New Year (Gung Hay Fat Choy) ends winter and marks the start of a prosperous spring. The New Year's dinner is very large and sumptuous and traditionally includes dishes of meat, pork, chicken) and fish. When I worked in Silicon Valley I would organize am outing at Chinese restaurant to celebrate the event. Due to the ethnicity, most of my Chinese and Asian friend would attend. Twenty of us or so would gather around the circular tables and the lazy Susan center at each table would allow us to easily share the bounty. Each person orders their favorite dish to share. Despite the abundance of the dishes, the bill per person was usually under $25 each unless abalone or lobster was ordered. What a feast.

2 Tablespoons fermented black beans1
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Teaspoons minced ginger
1 Teaspoons salt
1 Teaspoons sugar
¼ Cup peanut oil
2 Teaspoons soy sauce or Tamari
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1¼ Pound sole (cleaned and gutted, triple washed, with head and tail intact)
2 Green onions (white and green parts), cut lengthwise to 2 inches long


Soak black beans in warm water for 15 minutes. Rinse beans with cold water. Mash bean with the tines of a fork. Add garlic, ginger, salt, peanut oil, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil to beans and stir to combine. Rinse fish and dry with paper towels. Place fish on an oiled heatproof plate that will fit in your steamer. Make 3 shallow slashes on each side where the flesh is thickest to promote cooking. Spread the fish inside and out with bean mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate for an hour. Fill steamer with boiling water. Place plate in steamer, cover and steam until the fish is done, about 12 minutes. Add more boiling water as needed. Garnish with green onions.

  1. These are called dou chi in Mandarin, dul see in Cantonese, dau/tau xi in Vietnamese: To be found in Chinese and Southeast Asian markets. There are about a dollar for a ½ pound package. The flavor of black beans are pungent; for a milder flavor, use less of them. This flavor also works well with Mirin, a sweet cooking rice wine or even sherry.

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