My fish finale: chinese-style steamed fish

Tonight was the final night of dining on our Kampachi. I felt inspired by Chinese-style steamed fish dishes and wanted to try my best to replicate the technique. Just last weekend, we had a steamed Rock Cod and I loved how it was prepared, simple and full of flavor. The secret is in the soy-based sauce which uses green onions, cilantro and ginger.

I prepared a bamboo steamer with a layer of romaine lettuce, any type of leafy green would work well. The goal is to create a layer beneath the fish so that it does not stick, yet steam is allowed to pass through. On top of the romaine, I place chopped green onions, cilantro and ginger, about 1/4 cup of each. I took this photo before the cilantro was added, but I did add it eventually :-)

Place the fish filet on top of the prepared bed, then steam for 5-8 minutes or until opaque. It’s just that simple.

Now for the secret sauce. When eating dim sum and last weekend while having the steamed fish, I’ve come across this special soy dipping sauce served with some dishes. It tastes so good that I could drink it with a spoon. It’s soy sauce, but it has onion and other flavors in it too — as Emeril would say, it’s kicked up a notch.

When preparing steamed fish, the sauce is poured over the cooked fish, then hot oil with onion and ginger is poured over the fish. This mix of onion and ginger blends with the sauce to create an amazing flavor. It seems that the sauce is prepared from basic ingredients, each person putting their own spin on it. Here’s mine:

Secret sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro

Heat this mixture, either in a microwave or on the stove, until hot. Place cooked fish on a platter and pour this sauce over the top. In retrospect, this made alot more sauce that needed for my little filet. If steaming a whole fish, this would be the perfect amount.

In a sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until smoking hot. Add 1 chopped green onion and 1 tablespoon minced ginger. The flavors will burst into the oil, cook for 10-15 seconds then pour immediately over the top of the fish. Serve and enjoy!

The fish turned out perfectly — it was firm to the touch. At first, I worried that it was overcooked because it did feel really firm. I wondered if I had screwed it up (and feared a ruined meal). However, when I took my first bite all of my fears vanished. The fish was tender and soft, practically melting in my mouth. The sweet and savory sauce matched nicely with the mild fish. I served the meal with steamed rice and my infamous stir-fried romaine.

The sauce turned out pretty good too — not quite the same as the restaurant, so I’ll work on it a bit more. Maybe a little less dark soy sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I still scooped up extra sauce and slathered it over my rice. It was still pretty dang good.

The steamed preparation was the perfect end to a wonderful fish experience. I’ve enjoyed exploring my little Kampachi friend and would gladly use it again. It’s mild, buttery, and rich. Next time tough, I might just buy the fillets and not go through the hassle of filleting the fish myself. Rachael Ray would agree that this would be a shortcut opportunity to save me time in preparing a quick and simple dinner. And, I’m not gonna argue with her — she would clearly be able to kick my butt.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Peter M February 28, 2008, 1:32 am

    Allen, shall we call this your Kampachi Coda?

    All the uses were wonderful and I’m bookmarking your Asian steamer method on the fish.

  • Manggy February 28, 2008, 2:27 am

    That is glorious. It’s almost like the ones we always, always make a point to order in any Chinese restaurant. My mom makes her own version too– but I will have to ask her what she uses to thin out her soy sauce-sauce. Of course, we are not quite so luxurious (TM Donald Trump) as to use Kampachi!

    My friend, I beg to differ. You can kick RR’s butt. Just as long as Oprah stays on the sidelines.

  • Ben February 28, 2008, 6:39 am

    Oh it looks delicious! I love fish, but it is one of those things that are kind of expensive in this part of the world so I don’t eat it as often as I’d like (besides Jon doesn’t like it)

    I am bookmarking this anyway to make it in a special occasion, hehe.

  • Astra Libris February 28, 2008, 11:47 am

    Oh my, what a finale indeed! Your fish is beautiful! Move over, Morimoto – your Kampachi art looks beyond compare!

    btw, I tagged you with a MeMe…
    :-) Details are in my Wed. morning post… :-)

  • Allen February 28, 2008, 6:20 pm

    Peter: this is my Kampachi Coda! When you get around to trying the steamer method, let me know.

    Manggy: Thank you — let me know how your mom makes it. I think I used too much dark soy sauce and maybe too much sugar. Otherwise, it tasted pretty close.

    Ben: Something tells me that you could sneak in a fish meal without getting into too much trouble :-)

    Astra: Thank you — Morimoto beware! A MeMe? Oh my, this is my very first one … I’ll swing by and take a look :-)

  • Kevin February 28, 2008, 6:40 pm

    That steamed fish looks good. I like the idea of steaming fish. I will have to try it. The sauce with onions and ginger also sounds pretty tasty.

  • diva April 3, 2008, 9:36 am

    that looks well good. when i’m home with the family, this is often served at big family occasions or Chinese New Year. the bigger the fish, the better ;) also, it’s a dish that works best with fresh water fish. And mum’s secret is stuffing the insides of the fish with soured plums, thinly sliced ginger and chili strips. this really takes me back.

    thanks for sharing!

  • Bryce Tugwell April 3, 2008, 10:35 am

    This sounds very nice. Simple to prepare and good for you as well. You have inspired me to try a variation on this tonight.

  • Supreme April 3, 2008, 12:48 pm

    I usually add a tiny bit of oyster sauce to my special sauce – particularly if I’m messing with fish…

    As for RR, a retarded one-armed monkey could probably whup her in the kitchen. I have nothing but disdain and disrespect for her pedantic cooking “skills”.

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