Chunyi Zhou, a cooking-school instructor in Beijing (see Cultural Evolution) shared this recipe with SAVEUR editor Georgia Freedman during her recent trip to China. While we love the simple sweetness of black sea bass, any whole firm-fleshed white fish that fits in a stackable Chinese bamboo steamer will work just as well. A word of caution, though: make sure your steamer is approximately half an inch wider in diameter than the plate of fish; this helps the fish cook properly and ensures safe removal of the plate when the process is finished.
- 2 (12-14-oz.) whole branzino or black sea bass, scaled and gutted
- 1 (1″) piece ginger, peeled and julienned
- 3 scallions, white parts discarded, green parts cut into 1″ pieces and thinly julienned
- 3 tbsp. corn oil or Asian hot sesame oil
- 4 tbsp. light soy sauce
- Rinse fish under cold running water and pat dry with a paper towel. Transfer each fish to a 10″ plate. Using kitchen shears, trim the tail and fins of each fish. With a knife, score the flesh on both sides of fish with 4 diagonal slices. Place strips of ginger in the cavity of each fish and strew the remaining ginger on top.
- In a shallow pot large enough to hold an 11″-wide Chinese bamboo steamer, add 1″ of water; boil over high heat. Place the first stackable bamboo steamer in the pot. Transfer 1 plate of fish to the steamer; repeat with the second level of the steamer and second plate of fish. Cover and steam over boiling water until fish is cooked through (when a chopstick inserted into the thickest part of the fish enters with ease), about 6 minutes. Using tongs in one hand and a dry kitchen towel in the other, carefully remove hot plates of fish from the steamer; set aside and strew fish with scallions.
- Meanwhile, heat corn oil or sesame oil in a small saucepan over high heat, about 1 minute. Spoon oil and soy sauce over scallions and fish.