Steamed Sea Bass
SERVES 4 – 6
Hong Kong cooking is basically Cantonese, which is the most varied of Chinese cuisines. Originally this recipe used parrot fish but we substituted sea bass with delicious results.
6 tbsp. light soy sauce
3 tbsp. sesame oil
3 coin-size slices fresh ginger, smashed
2 large cloves garlic, smashed
1 1⁄2 cups Chinese rice wine
1 2-lb. sea bass, cleaned and scaled
8 whole dried shiitake mushrooms
3 scallions, cut into 2" pieces
1 piece peeled fresh ginger, the size of your thumb
1. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and rice wine in a shallow dish, large enough to hold the fish. Add the fish and marinate for 30 minutes, basting inside and out, turning the fish several times.
2. Soak mushrooms in very hot water for about 20 minutes to soften. Drain, then squeeze mushrooms to remove excess water. Trim off stems and discard, then finely slice softened mushrooms. Finely slice scallion pieces and ginger, lengthwise. The mushrooms, scallions, and ginger should be sliced the same size so that they cook evenly.
3. Place a rack in the bottom of a large wok, add 2–3 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Position wok ring so that the wok is as close to the heat source as possible. (Electric stoves can take longer than gas.) Transfer the fish to an oval plate. Place the plate on the rack in the wok; cover tightly.
4. Pour marinade into a small saucepan and reduce slightly over medium heat while the fish cooks. After 5 minutes, uncover the wok and scatter mushrooms, scallions, and ginger over the fish. Replace cover and steam for an additional 15 minutes. Don't peek, as this will lower the temperature and slow down the cooking process.
5. Remove the fish from the wok when the meat closest to the bone still has a slightly pink color; it will continue to cook with retained heat. Strain the sauce and drizzle a little over the fish. Serve the rest in a bowl at the table. Serve fish whole, lifting portions of it off the bone. Accompany with hot steamed rice.