Saturday 6 December
While browsing the fish counter at Luken's today, Holt's bright eye was caught by a bright-eyed red snapper - so of course, he snapped it up.
Such fresh fish calls for light, Asian flavors, and there's still a couple of bushels of cilantro in the garden. So we decided to steam it whole, like so.
1 whole red snapper, over a pound, cleaned, scaled
3-4 tablespoons ginger, chopped
8 very thin slices peeled garlic
two handfuls fresh cilantro leaves, torn or rough chopped
4-6 large shallots
1 Tablespoon sliced lemongrass
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Shao Xing wine
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Sprinkle salt inside the fish. Using sharp knife, make 4 diagonal slits to the bone on each side of fish. Insert 1 slice each of garlic and ginger, a few cilantro leaves, and salt into each slit.
Put fish in fireproof dish or platter. Set up a steamer in which it will fit; we used two 14-inch skillets, one on top of the other, with two perpendicular layers of bamboo skewers to raise the platter above the bottom.
Pour enough water into steamer to be above rack but below lip of platter. Insert platter of fish.
Sprinkle rest of cilantro, peeled shallots, and lemongrass into dish on either side of fish; sprinkle with soy sauce and Shao Xing wine. Bring water to boil. Cover and steam fish until just opaque in center at bone, about 18-20 minutes.
Remove platter, share out shallots to separate plates, and put fish in center of table. Sprinkle with sesame oil. Diners can help themselves to the best bits from the central platter, and spoon the fragrant sauce from the platter over their own bits.
The fish was just as we wanted it, delicate and light. The shallots were a bit crunchy, though, so next time we'll slice them thinner, or perhaps use another steaming vegetable, like broccoli florets or asparagus.