Chinese Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce 豉汁蒸魚
By Ellen L. Published: 2016-03-16In our many experiments cooking the lovely Antarctic Queen fish this last week, we found that our favorite way of cooking up this tender, sweet and mild fish was pairing it with the classic traditional Chinese Black Bean Sauce, or 蒜蓉豆豉醬. You must have tried Chinese black bean sauce before, it is a common sauce for many a Chinese dish and is popular at restaurants as an easy, flavorful way to prepare a dish with a minimum of fuss. For myself black bean sauce was never a favorite, I found it too overpowering. Never, that is, until we started making it at home. WOW! Homemade black bean sauce is a different creature altogether, rich yet subtle, many layered, just delicious and completely different from the out of the can black bean sauce that is almost always used in restaurants. Try our Chinese Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce 豉汁蒸魚 recipe yourself and see if you don't find it yummilicious as well!
Famously for the Cantonese the favorite way to cook fresh fish is to simply steam the fish with ginger and spring onions, adding a splash of hot oil and fine soy sauce at the end. Absolutely delicious with fish such as garoupa (or grouper) where the sea fresh fish meat is tender yet firm and quite flavorful on it's own. However for fish that have a more mild taste, such as the Cod fish or the Antarctic Queen Southern Hake, steaming with additions of intensely flavored toppings will allow for wonderful permeation of the meat with additional flavors as well as creating a nice rich sauce for the fish.
The black bean sauce is easily made fresh at home with a wee bit of effort. It's best made freshly each time you want to use it. And trust me, it's worth the effort. My 老公's homemade black bean sauce converted me from 'meh' about black bean sauce to loving every last morsel of bean. Just throw together a bit of black bean, garlic and a splash of seasonings and mash it up, easy peasy! (See our Chinese Black Bean Sauce recipe 豆豉醬|豉椒!)
And, of course, if you're out of time you can also buy canned Chinese Black Bean Sauce at your local asian grocer.
Here are our fillets of fish, smeared generously with homemade black bean sauce and ready for our lovely bamboo steamer. Be generous with the black bean sauce, it's a bit salty but mostly just flavorful, so more is always welcome. A thick cover of 1/4 inch is just fine and looks very handsome as well presented atop of the beautifully white fish flesh.
For this Chinese Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce recipe we recommend a mild lean fish like cod, halibut, pomfret, southern hake, or even eel (yummy...best preparation for eel...so good!) You can use whole fish, gutted and scaled first of course (ask your fish guy to do it) or fish fillets.
Chinese Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce Recipe 豉汁蒸魚
1 1/2 lb whole fish or fillet (650g)
6 thin slices ginger
4 stalks spring onion, white half only
3 tbsp chinese black bean sauce
3 tbsp spring onions, chopped or julienned***
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp fine soy sauce
If you are making your own Chinese black bean sauce (yeah!) please see our recipe here.
Wash fish thoroughly, checking whole fish for any missed scales*. Dry with paper towels. On the steaming plate, lay down the halved spring onions stalks, then place the fish on top of them so that the fish is somewhat raised up from the plate. Tuck ginger slices inside the fish cavity and along the top of the fish. If using fish fillets tuck ginger under and over the fish. Smear on a topping of chinese black bean sauce evenly over the top of the fish (except the head and the tail). Steam 8 mins over high heat. Check for doneness with a sharp knife, checking that the fish easily flakes and does not stick to the fish's bone (if any). Remove immediately from heat.
Taste test the juices accumulated on the steaming plate. If pleasant to taste with no fishiness, retain about 2 tbsp and pour off the rest. If any hint of fishiness, pour off completely. Remove any ginger slices** that are visible.
Top fish with spring onions. Heat up your oil until smoking hot, then pour evenly over fish, especially the spring onions, being careful of the sizzling oil. This releases the aromatics of the spring onions. Lastly splash in your soy sauce around the fish and it's ready to serve. Enjoy!
*Tip: To remove missed scales, run a paring knife along the skin against the grain of the scales. Use your hands to check for scales and water to rinse the scales away. Or get yourself a fish scaler .
**Tip: Don't eat the ginger slices buried under the black bean sauce. Just pick them out as you come to them when eating and discard.
***Tip: To easily julienne spring onions, get yourself this gadget! This spring onion julienne gadget is too cool for school!
Boiled Fresh Octopus 白灼新鮮八爪魚
Chinese Chilled Crab with Vinegar Dip 凍花蟹
Abalone Steamed with Tangerine Peel 果皮蒸鮑魚
Steamed Garoupa Fish 蒸石斑
Chinese Pan Fried Fish with Sauce 煎紅衫魚
Fish Tail Rice Soup 魚尾泡飯湯