Daisy’s Steamed Fish 2.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jun 27, 2019

San Francisco speech pathologist Daisy Choy grew up in Hong Kong, with consistent access to fresh fish. This dish is healthful, using ginger and scallions as star ingredients in its simple sauce. Choy's cooking is said to be a reflection of her ancestors from Shun Tak in China's Guangdong province, where the food is known for being fresh and light.

You’ll need a steamer basket, preferably a large bamboo one; if you don’t have one, you can use a thin plate, seated on a cookie cutter inside a large skillet filled with an inch of water.

Serve with cooked white rice.

2 - 4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-4 servings

  • For the fish
  • 1 pound white-fleshed fish fillets, such as grouper, red snapper, sole and flounder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 scallions, white parts only (reserve the greens for the sauce)
  • One 1-inch piece fresh ginger root (unpeeled), cut into thin strips
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • For the sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • One 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, cut into matchsticks
  • Green parts of 3 scallions, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon water

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Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then season/coat both sides with the ground ginger, salt, white pepper and cornstarch.

Pour enough water to come up about one-quarter of the way up the sides of a large skillet or pot; bring to a boil over high heat.

Cut the scallion whites into long strips; reserve 3 or 4 pieces and use the rest to line the bottom of a large bamboo steamer and set it atop the skillet or pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Arrange the fish on top of the scallions, then place those reserved scallion pieces and the ginger on top of the fish. Drizzle the fillets with peanut oil, as needed, then place a round of parchment paper on top of the fish. Cover with lid and steam/cook for about 8 minutes, or just until the fish is opaque. (Grouper may take up to 12 minutes.) Discard the parchment.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the peanut oil until shimmering in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and scallion greens; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil and the water. Cook for 5 minutes, until heated through.

Discard the scallions and ginger atop the fillets (and the scallion whites beneath them), then arrange the fish on a platter. Drizzle the sauce over the top and serve right away.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from her recipe in “Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories From the Tables of Immigrant Women,” by Anna Francese Gass (Harper Design, 2019).

Tested by Sophia Nguyen.

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