Cantonese folks believe that the best way to savor the sweetness of fresh fish is to do the least to it. A classic case of less is more. “7 minutes” is the magic number to cook the fish. Regardless of amount. You want it just flaking, and not tough. You can control how much oil you want to add. This recipe makes a small jar of shallot oil that you can use many times over.
Chef’s tip: Invest in a steamer rack, like the picture below….for a grand price of $0.69. You can find the racks in many of those houseware stores in Chinatown, typically hung outside the shop….as if in marketing terms, an impromptu purchase item. Go figure. Just place it on a big pot, wok or saute pan with a cover, add some water till it comes up to the height of the steamer, use a heatproof dish and you would have outfitted your kitchen with a steamer capability.
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1/2 cup canola oil
8 oz soft, white fish (rock fillet, red snapper, sea bass)
1/2 inch ginger, peeled, julienned fine
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1 sprig green onions, green part only, julienned
1 sprig cilantro
To make the shallot oil:
1. In a small sauce pot, heat canola oil. Add sliced shallots and fry till light golden brown. Remove from heat and the shallots will continue browning to a deep brown.
2. When cool, transfer oil and shallot crisps to a glass jar. Shallot oil can be kept for a couple of months in a jar.
Preparing the fish:
3. Bring a wok of water with a steamer rack to boil.
4. Smear a heat-proof deep plate with a little of the shallot oil. Place fish on the plate. Top with ginger strips.
5. Place in steamer and steam under boiling water for 7 minutes.
6. Remove plate from the steamer, drizzle with 1-2 Tablespoons of shallot oil and crisps, soy sauce and top with green onions and cilantro. Serve immediately.
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