- Step 1
To steam food, you need a steaming basket or perforated container that sits in, or over, a wok or saucepan filled with boiling water. The steam from the water rises up through the holes and cooks the food inside the container or basket. There are different types of steaming baskets and containers available, including bamboo steamers, saucepan steamer inserts and expanding steamer baskets. For this recipe, you will need a 12" (30cm) bamboo steamer with 1 tier.
- Step 2
Have all the required utensils ready and close at hand. Measure and prepare all your ingredients.
- Step 3
Wash the cleaned and gutted fish and wipe inside and out with paper towel to dry well. Trim the fins with poultry scissors if desired. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 slashes in the thickest part of the flesh on both sides of each fish. This will help the fish to cook evenly. Rub both sides of the fish with a little salt and then the sesame oil. Sprinkle 1/2 the ginger and lemon grass evenly over a 30cm plate. Place the scored fish on top and sprinkle with the remaining ginger and lemon grass and the shallots. These flavourings will permeate the fish as it cooks. By putting the fish on a plate and not directly on the bottom of the steaming basket, you will be cooking the fish by indirect steaming, The fish juices and flavourings are caught on the plate and can then be spooned over the final dish. The plate also makes it easier to remove the cooked fish from the basket.
- Step 4
Bring about 5cm of water to the boil in a medium wok or a saucepan that allows the steamer to fit comfortably into the rim without falling inside. It is important that the steamer basket fits neatly into the wok or saucepan to ensure that the steam cannot escape from around the sides. It is also important that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the steamer basket or the food will sit in the water and be poached or boiled, not steamed. When steaming, flavourings, like onion, herbs and garlic, can be added to the water so that they are absorbed into the food while cooking. However, because there are already flavourings directly under and over the fish, this is unnecessary in this recipe. Reduce the heat to medium-high so the water is held at a gentle, not rolling, boil. If the heat is too high, the food will be cooked too quickly and become tough or over-cooked. Place the plated fish into the steaming basket.
- Step 5
Place the steaming basket over the boiling water and then cover tightly with the lid. If the lid doesn't seal well, place a clean cotton tea towel over the steamer basket before covering with the lid. Bamboo steamers have the advantage of being able to absorb moisture during steaming thereby preventing excess water dripping from the lid onto the food. If using a metal steamer and saucepan, a cotton tea towel or cloth placed over the top tier or the saucepan rim before covering with the lid helps stop moisture from dripping. Steam for 8-10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through and flakes when tested with a fork at the thickest part. Remove the basket from the wok or saucepan immediately. Because steaming is a moist cooking technique, the food will be tender, retaining all its natural juices. Steaming is also the best method for retaining the nutrients and natural flavour of food.
- Step 6
Meanwhile, to make the soy garlic sauce, combine the soy sauce, peanut oil, fish sauce and garlic in a small bowl and mix well. Transfer the cooked fish to serving plates with any juices that have collected on the plate. Serve with the soy garlic sauce spooned over.
Serve this fish with steamed jasmine rice and Asian greens.