Red, hot and steamy
This fish is one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not an uncommon species. Yet, I have only seen it twice in the market. I believe it is well sought after by the Japanese (for sashimi). Not really sure about its name in English. We call it “Red Rooster” (海紅雞) in China and Taiwan.
Fishes like this should never be overcooked. To take it to the frying pan, grill or hot oil is a crime. Don’t even think about doing it. To retain its freshness and tenderness, all we have to do is to give it a quick easy steam – the traditional Chinese way.
This fish was live when I found it in the market. Here in Hong Kong, about half of the fishes are kept live when they are sold. There’s a huge difference, however, between live fishes from the sea and those from the farm. This species cannot be grown in the farm. Finding a live one is a challenge.
This fish weighs about ½ kg – just perfect. Anything smaller, you won’t get enough to taste. Bigger, its delicacy will diminish.
Rinse it thoroughly and leave it dry for 5-10 minutes. Use a kitchen towel to mop it up a little, if necessary.
Have coriander and spring onion ready. Wash them well and leave them all dry. Chop them finely just before use. Ginger is optional and should be chopped finely also.
Bring water to a full boil. Use a heavy lid if possible, because steam must be intense enough so that the fish can be just cooked within the shortest span of time. That’s the key about Chinese steam fish. It’s very straightforward but often easily overlooked.
For a fish as small as this, 5 minutes are all it needs. While it’s in the steam, start heating up half a spoonful of peanut oil. Add ginger when oil is hot.
Take the fish out immediately when done. Sprinkle it with coriander and spring onion. Pour oil and ginger instantly and evenly on the surface. Give it drops of soy-sauce (preferably hot) and a quick grind of fresh white-pepper.
Any white wine goes well with this fish. Pick one that is a little dry on the edge, to help your taste buds uncover the delicacy of this rare species.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Red, hot and steamy