Scott Drewno, executive chef at Source, says this is a good example of the kinds of communal dishes he enjoyed during a recent visit to China. He plans to include it on a tasting menu at the restaurant. Drewno prefers using a sustainable type of bass, a fish that takes well to steaming. The braised-mushroom topping lends a chewy earthiness.
You'll need a bamboo steamer large enough to hold the plate that the fish is on.
Make Ahead: You'll need only 2 tablespoons of the mushrooms for this recipe. The mushrooms can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
- For the mushrooms
- 16 dried shiitake mushrooms (2 1/8 ounces)
- 1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup soy sauce, preferably Chinese
- For the fish
- One 1 1/4-pound head-on bass or branzino, filleted
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh peeled ginger root
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh scallion (light-green parts), plus 1 or 2 scallions (white and light-green parts), cut thinly on the diagonal, for garnish
- 1 tablespoon crispy fried shallots
- 1 tablespoon crispy fried garlic
- 1 tablespoon toasted panko (see NOTE)
- 1 teaspoon minced chives
- 1 tablespoon peeled, seeded and minced tomato, preferably Roma
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
For the mushrooms: Combine the mushrooms, broth, mirin and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and cook uncovered for 45 minutes. The mushrooms should be springy to the touch. Cool, then cut into small dice, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Use right away, or refrigerate for up to 5 days.
For the fish: Have a heatproof plate at hand with a raised edge; this will be used to steam the fish, so it needs to be able to fit inside a large bamboo steamer. Because the plate has a raised edge, it will be easier to collect the juices from the steamed fish. Place the steamer in a large saute pan filled with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium.
Coat the skin of the fish with the butter on all sides (except the head). Lightly season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Combine the garlic, ginger and scallion in a small bowl, then coat the flesh sides of the filleted fish with the mixture.
Position the fish on the heatproof plate so the head is upright, and place the plate in the steamer. Cover with the steamer lid and steam for about 8 minutes. The fish is done when its flesh is just opaque.
Meanwhile, toss together 2 tablespoons (drained) of the soy-braised mushrooms, the shallots, garlic, panko, chives, tomato and lemon zest in a medium bowl.
When ready to serve, carefully slide the fish onto a serving platter so it lands in the same position in which it was steamed, then spoon the juices on the plate over the fish. Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly over the filleted part of the fish. Garnish with the scallions. Serve right away.
NOTE: Toast the panko in a skillet coated with nonstick cooking oil spray for several minutes, until it has lightly browned. Toss or shake the skillet often to keep the crumbs from burning.
From Drewno, executive chef at the Source restaurant in downtown Washington.
Tested by Scott Drewno and Bonnie S. Benwick.
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