Recipe: Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger & Spring Onion (Qing Zheng Lu Yu)
I’m getting fat. It’s official. After our trip to America Fen stated I have a stomach that resembles a watermelon, and although constant churlish rebukes have rendered me numb to her criticism, I fear she does have a point.
It is perfectly feasible Fen is manipulating my mood in order to dictate what food I cook, but in any case it was on a Sunday when I was feeling particularly pitiful for myself and decided to rustle up this nutritious little number. A classic dish that embodies the Cantonese doctrine of using simple, fresh produce with minimal embellishment, qing zheng lu yu (清蒸鲈鱼) somehow manages to tread the line between being filling while still being light, healthy, and extremely satisfying.
In my experience qing zheng lu yu has always been a favourtie, both at the home dinner table and in restaurants. There is a certain amount of drama making sure you don’t accidentally pick up a mouthful of bone, and the grand ‘flipping of the fish’ once one side is devoured is always highly anticipated, with greedy chopsticks ready to leap upon the newly exposed meat.
This is just the basic recipe, but there are a million and one variations you could try out, and there’s no reason you need to stick with sea bass (we have a rainbow trout in the freezer ready for next time). I’m so used to Chinese food having so many strong, overpowering flavours (Sichuan peppercorn anyone?) so I’m always really struck my how light and delicate this dish is. It’s a dish you can’t simply just wolf down, partly because with so many bones you physically can’t, but also partly because you’ll miss out on the subtle flavour of the ginger and spring onion, combined with the light tang of the soy sauce dip. Apart from
I’m so used to Chinese food having so many strong, overpowering flavours (Sichuan peppercorn anyone?) so I’m always really struck my how light and delicate this dish is. It’s a dish that’s impossible to wolf down, partly because with so many bones you physically can’t, but also partly because you’ll miss out on the subtle flavour of the ginger and spring onion, combined with the light tang of the soy sauce dip. Apart from complaining I took too long to make it, the dish also got a glowing review from Fen, and I got an additional request to make it again with the rainbow trout next week. A palpable hit!
- 8 Spring onions
- 50g ginger
- 1 sea bass scaled and cleaned, complete with head and tail
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- Clean and trim three of the spring onions, before cutting them in 6cm lengths, and then into slivers. Peel the ginger and put aside the peel for the marinade. Take the peeled part and cut into slivers
- Rinse the fish under cold water before patting dry. Make three or four diagonal cuts on the body, starting from the head going down to the tail. Make sure you cut deep inside, and do so on both sides
- Take the salt and shaoxing wine and rub it inside and outside the fish. Place the ginger peel and spring onion inside the belly cavity and leave to marinate for 10 minutes
- Tear the last spring onion into three pieces. Place in the steamer, then place the fish on top (the fish will be raised up, allowing the steam to get underneath)
- Steam for 10-12 minutes. When done, test by poking a chopstick into the thickest part of the fish behind the head - the skin should flake away. When done remove the fish and put on a serving plate. Remove the ginger and spring onion. Dilute the soy sauce with 2 tbsp of hot water
- Scatter the spring onions and ginger on top of the fish. Heat the oil in a pan, and when it begins to smoke, drizzle it over the spring onion and ginger. Pour the diluted soy sauce over the dish, then serve.
Inspired from: Fuchsia Dunlop