Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stop Press! Fresh Fish!

Celebrating the twofold joys of living in Mumbai and working from home - in no specific order!

Munna Chauhan, the fish seller proudly displaying his wares.
Is there anywhere else in the world that one can buy fish at one's doorstep?

Every second day or so the watchman will buzz us on the intercom. Machii Chahiye? So, today while I am supposed to be finishing a story on the A-Z of Aphrodisiacs for BTW magazine, I am instead slacking off!

First to buy fish, then to decide how I want to cook it for lunch, then because I realise I need to order some vegetables because I do not have eveything I need to make the recipe I want to cook, and then to actually cook the damn thing.

Why do I need to cook fish now? Well; because there are no leftovers from dinner that I can rework into a meal for lunch, because although my son loves fish, my husband is not very fond of it so fish at dinner means making an entire third so we are all happy, a prospect too challenging with the many things I am already juggling at the moment due to the a new baby in the house, because JUST LOOK AT THE WHOPPER I BOUGHT!

I am pretty new to fish in my kitchen so at the moment I can't tell you more thant the fact that the above is a Halwa fish (I have not been able to figure out what it is called in English yet) and I paid Rs. 550 for it. Cleaned and cut into fillets, it gave me enough for 5 -6 meals.

I had been hankering after a dish I had eaten years on a work trip years ago in Aukland, New Zealand. I know it was a whole steamed fish in a thin watery soya sauce with los of spring onions on it, but I cant recall it's name or the name of the restaurant (this was before I became obsessed with food) but I recall the chinese restaurant we had it at was next door to the Air new Zealand office because they were the ones hosting us at the meal.

Well I googled Stemed fish + Kylie Kwong, figuring if there was any chance of me finding a dish such as this it would be a recipe of hers and right enough google did its thing and threw back -Steamed Fish Fillets with Ginger and Scallions.

I now knew what I wanted to do with my fish for lunch but scanning through the recipe I found I was missing a few ingredients.

The scallions were taken care of with a quick call to the corner vegetable seller, who had them delivered to me in minutes, but i was fresh out of rice vinegar/sherry, chinese cabbage and peanut oil. I only had some grape vinegar mom brought me from Turkey and an iceberg lettuce in the fridge.

I decided to wing it.

Steamed Fish Fillet with Ginger and Scallions

4 servings

I cut down the vinegar to 1 tbsp to be on the safe side and Kylie's technique of first steaming the fillets awhile, then adding the cabbage leaf sections to the same steamer basket actually worked out brilliantly with the iceberg because the outer leaves absorbed some of the juices from the fish and the inner leaves stayed crunchy. I also finished with gingelly, til or cold pressed sesame oil in place of thepeanut oil.

2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry
Four 3 1/2-ounce firm white-fleshed fish fillets, such as King George whiting, cod, barramundi or mahi-mahi
2-inch piece peeled ginger root, cut into julienne (very thin strips)
1 Chinese cabbage leaf
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup scallions, white and tender green parts only, cut lengthwise into very thin strips
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, for garnish
Pinch white ground pepper, for garnish

Combine the soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine the water and wine or sherry in a measuring cup.

Place the fish in a shallow heatproof bowl that will fit inside a steamer basket. Pour the water-wine/sherry mixture over the fish, then sprinkle the fillets with half of the ginger. Place the bowl inside the steamer and position over a deep saucepan or wok containing a few inches of boiling water. Cover and steam for 5 to 6 minutes.

Cut the cabbage leaf crosswise into 4 sections and slip them inside the steamer, around the edges of the bowl containing the fish. Cover and steam for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cabbage has warmed through and the fish is opaque. (If the fish is still translucent, cook for another minute or so.)

Arrange the hot cabbage leaf sections on a platter. Use a wide spatula to carefully place the fish on top of the cabbage. Pour any liquid left in the bowl over the fish, sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with the soy sauce mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining ginger and half the scallions.

Heat the peanut oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat until it is moderately hot, then carefully pour over the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining scallions and the cilantro and pepper. Serve immediately.

We had the steamed fish over rice with greens sauteed in Garlic after which I resisted the call of my bed and got back to my computer to finish E - Z of the artile I had left to go. Unfortunately I did not get past F because I then got to writing up this blog entry!

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