Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Steamed NZ Hoki Fillets

Nothing screams Asian than fresh fish, steamed to perfection, flaking perfectly and drizzled with fresh fragrant herbs.  Steamed fish is usually a whole fish of some sort, bone and all. There are only a few type of fish that my two boys will eat - predominantly NZ fish like snapper and hoki. As much as I would like to broaden their horizon in terms of fish, it is hard to come by fresh whole fish here in Brisbane. Trying the local fish store has left me disappointed with their lack of freshness, and even those that are swimming around in tanks seem to impart a strong muddy taste, which if I can taste, the boys will surely taste too. So alas, my fresh whole fish is very far and few in between. I've now resorted to either buying frozen fillets or trek out to the markets and hope that one of the stalls have caught some fresh NZ fish.  

Fresh fish is best eaten steamed as it brings out the natural sweetness of the fish.  If cooked any other way is seen as sacrilegious and a waste of a beautiful specimen.  I love to eat steamed fish with bowls and bowls of rice drizzled with the sauce, topped with the smell of just scalded scallions and coriander.  

In Malaysia, and most other Asian countries, fish is usually sold whole, and to have fillet was an anomaly. However, when we moved to NZ, whole fish was not as popular and fillets were readily available. Asians believe that when meat is cooked on the bone, it adds flavour and keeps the meat moist (this theory applies to most protein). However, having bones mean that it requires a little more work while eating it. For me personally, I prefer the fillets as it gives me a peace of mind that my clumsy boys will not choke on a bone by accident! Every time we would go home to Malaysia, I would have to ask them to eat their fish slowly and to ensure that they spit out the bones. I'd have to watch them like a hawk to ensure that nothing untoward would happen. Needless to say, it's a pain, and means I can't enjoy my food either!! At least with fillets, that stress is taken away and everyone can enjoy their meals!

Ingredients :

You can easily adjust this recipe to use whole fish if you can manage to find fresh fish. How do you know it is fresh fish? The eyes should be bright and clear. Their gills should be bright red, not brown. The skin should be firm, clear and bright with no slime. It should smell of the ocean - briny, mild and fresh. If it smells 'fishy' or sour, hightail it out of there! 

3 Hoki fish fillets (or other white fish such as snapper) 
1.5 inch of ginger, thinly sliced
1 stalk of scallion
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
3 tablespoons of water
1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil
Dash of pepper
Extra coriander, scallion and chilli for garnish

Steps :

Clean the fish and pat dry. Place the sliced ginger and scallion on the fish.
If you are using whole fish, score the flesh on both sides of the fish.

In a steamer pot, bring water to boil. When it's ready put the fish in and steam over high heat for 8 minutes (18 to 20 minutes for whole fish, depending how big and thick your fish is)

While that is steaming, in a small pan, fry the garlic until golden brown. Add in soy sauce, water, sugar and pepper. When sugar is dissolved turn off the heat.

When fish is done, drain off the excess water that has come from the fish from the plate and remove the ginger and scallion. Pour the sauce and sesame oil over the steaming fish. Garnish with extra scallion, chilli and coriander.

Serve with steamed rice immediately. 

Do you prefer whole fish or fillets? How do you prefer to cook your fish? Happy eating friends!

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