Saturday, June 18, 2016

Steamed Fish with Fermented Black Beans, Ginger & Scallions

Many moons ago, when the CC was in school, the CC learnt this simple dish from his friend. We'd get together to make this because we needed to pool our money to afford the fish and this is not a dish that reheats at all. Make it, eat it, be done with it.

When described it has the barest of ingredients but it is simply bursting with flavor.

The salted preserved black beans (豆豉) are actually fermented and salted soy beans. They are intensely flavored with a salty umami taste (much more intense than soy sauce, say.)

Traditionally, this would be made with a whole fish which is stuffed with the ingredients and steamed. Additional slivered ginger, black beans and scallions would be scattered over the top while serving. A few drops of intense sesame oil completes the dish.

When the CC saw black sea bass at the farmer's market, he knew right away that he needed to make this dish again.

You need to use fish with the skin on. The skin has all the flavor. The CC never understood the idea behind removing the most flavorful part. As the much older Japanese mother of a friend once said, "Why do they remove the best part?"

Why indeed?


fillet of white fish (with skin)
1 tbsp preserved black beans
slivered ginger
slivered scallions

sesame oil


Note 1: The recipe below has been adapted to fillets but you can always make it the traditional way. Stuff half the stuff inside the cavity and sprinkle half on top.

Note 2: Don't add salt. There's plenty already in the preserved black beans.

Note 3: You will need a skillet which has a cover.

Heat up some oil in a pan. When hot but not shimmering, place the fillet skin side down on it, Toss the ginger, scallions and black beans over it. Add four tbsp of water and cover the pan. Let the fish steam at medium-low heat until done.

Serve over rice with the other ingredients from the pan. Add a few drops of sesame oil to the fish, and more ginger and scallions if desired.

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