A drizzle of toasted sesame oil before steaming infuses whole sea bass with a nutty flavor, while a sauce of ginger, chili paste, and salty brown beans adds punch to this Chinese-Malaysian dish. This recipe first appeared in our May 2014 issue with the story Still Cooking.
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 (1″) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1⁄4 cup peanut oil
- 5 tbsp. sugar
- 3 tbsp. brown bean sauce, such as Koon Chun brand
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. sambal oelek (red chili paste)
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. shaoxing jiu (Chinese rice wine)
- 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 1 (12–14 oz.) whole sea bass, cleaned and dried
- 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 8 sprigs cilantro
- 2 scallions, julienned
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- Purée garlic, ginger, and onion in a small food processor into a paste. Heat oil in a 10” skillet over medium-high heat. Cook paste until golden and fragrant, 3–4 minutes. Add sugar, bean sauce, chili paste, rice wine, oyster sauce, and 5 tbsp. water; simmer until sugar is dissolved, 2–3 minutes, and set aside.
- Slice bass on either side of head, just above each fillet. Place bass skin side up on a heatproof platter splayed open so it lies upright; drizzle with sesame oil. Bring 1″ water to a boil in a 14″ flat-bottom wok fitted with an 11″ bamboo steamer. Place platter with bass in steamer base and cover; steam until cooked through, 12–15 minutes. Remove platter. Pour reserved sauce over fish; garnish with cilantro, scallions, and carrot.