My mother used to make this dish at least once a week when we were kids, as fresh fish and seafood are abundance in Macau’s market. Majority of the fishes and shellfish for sale in the market live in large tanks or buckets of water with plastic tubes pumping in oxygen for the day. Once you decided which one to buy, the fishmonger will scale and clean the fish for you right there and then.
With such fresh ingredient, it is best to cook it in the most simple way possible, to allow the freshest taste shines. In this case, steamed with ginger and spring onion – the most popular allium/herb/spice mix in Chinese cuisine. The fragrance of the ginger and spring onions infuses the slightly sweet flesh of the fish beautifully. There is a special step to take after the fish came out of the steamer – just before serving, pour hot oil onto the fish and fresh sliced spring onions, then drizzle sweet soy sauce all over. I learned this method from my mother and it will always be the way for me to finish off this dish. The sizzling oil not only takes the raw edge off the allium, which adds wonderful flavour to every mouthful; but also provides the steamed fish an extra ‘kick’ on the taste and a foundation for a good tasty sauce. Of course, it is up to you to take this additional step, it is also fine to just drizzle soy sauce on the cooked fish if time not allows. Although I highly recommend you not to skip it if possible.
Serves 2 or 3 as part of a larger meal
- 1 whole sea bass (about 600g)
- 1 thumb side ginger, peeled and julienned
- 4 sprigs of spring onion, cut into 7cm batons and then thinly slice lengthwise
- A pinch of salt
- Black pepper
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
For the sauce:
- 2.5 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. tamari or regular soy sauce
- 1 tsp. agave syrup
- Steamed Jasmine rice
To prepare the sweet soy sauce, combine tamari (or regular soy sauce) and agave syrup in a small jug and set aside.
Lay the fish (whole or cut in parts to fit like I did) in a steamer lined with baking paper. Scatter sliced ginger and half of the spring onion on top of the fish, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and a couple of turns of black pepper. Finally, drizzle the vegetable oil.
Steam the fish for about 10 minutes (without opening the lid at all before then). Then remove from heat. Transfer the fish on a warm serving platter (you can keep the liquid that came out after steaming, but I didn’t), scatter the other half of sliced spring onion on top.
Warm 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a sauce pan or pan. When it’s hot, very carefully pour the oil over the fish and onions (be careful as it will sizzle!) and then drizzle the sweet soy sauce on top.
Served immediately with steamy jasmine rice.