Steamed Whole Fish with Black Bean Sauce
This steamed whole fish with black bean sauce cooks in 30 minutes. In such short time, the fish soaks up the rich flavors of garlic, ginger and black bean sauce. Fine slivers of onion leaves and carrot serve as garnish. As a final touch, smoking hot sesame seed oil is poured over the fish before serving.
- 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.
- Crush the garlic cloves, discard the skins and slice as thinly as you can.
- Peel and slice the ginger as thinly as you can manage then pile the slices of ginger and cut into thin, thin slivers.
- Scatter the garlic and ginger all over the fish. For best results, stuff some of the ginger and garlic into the cavity.
- If you have a bamboo steamer large enough to hold the plate, 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. Steam the fish for 30 minutes.
- About 10 minutes before the fish is done, start preparing the garnish. Julienne the carrot and scallions.
- When the fish is done, scatter the carrot strips and scallions on top. You can choose to transfer the fish to a clean dish if you don't want to serve it with the juices.
- 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 fish by itself or with hot rice.
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. 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. Grind into a paste before using in the recipe. Updated from a recipe originally published in 2/19/2009
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