Steamed Ginger-Flavored Snapper




There is a tale, or fable, that many people know about cutting a ham in half. There are many variations, one with a child asking her mom why she cuts the holiday ham in half before putting it into the over, one with a new husband wondering why the wife had to cut the ham in half, one with sisters preparing the meal. They ask mom, grandma, and finally great-grandma who explains that when she was first married she didn’t have a pan large enough to fit a whole ham. And she’d always thought that it dried out the ham.
I’m making it clear that my fish is cut in half because my steamer is not very big.
Steaming a whole fish is an excellent method for cooking fresh, delicately flavored fish. It’s easy to do, as well.

steamed-snapper_6348Steamed Ginger-Flavored Snapper
Suzuki no Saka-Mushi
serves 2
page 377
Preparing the fish:
4-inch square of  kombu
One 1 1/2 pound whole sea base,
sea bream, red snapper,
or other white fish
1Tablespoon salt
Wrap the kombu in a moist cotton cloth, and let it stand until softened, about 30 minutes.
Gut the fish, clean it, and wipe it dry with a paper towel. Transfer the fish to a steel rack set over a pan, and salt the fish on both sides. Let the fish stand for 30 minutes.
Preparing the vegetables:
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms
8 small broccoli flowerets
Rinse the shiitake, and cut away and discard their stems.
In a medium pot of salted boiling water, parboil the broccoli for 30 seconds. Drain it, and spread it in a colander to cool.
Blanching and
Steaming the fish:

One 1-inch piece og ginger,
peeled and sliced thin crosswise
2 1/2 Tablespoons sake
(rice wine)
Set a large pot of water over high heat. Set a bamboo steamer basket over plenty of water in another large pot, and set it over high heat, too. Place the softened kombu on a platter that will fit into the steamer.
Wipe the fish with a paper towel to remove the salt and exuded liquid. When the water in the first pot comes to a boil, add the fish. If the whole fish won’t fit into the steamer, cut the fish in half. Blanch it for 30 seconds.
Carefully remove the fish from the water, using two large spatulas, and transfer the fish to the kombu-lined platter. Stuff the belly cavity with half the sliced ginger, and scatter the remaining ginger slices over the fish.
Transfer the platter to the hot steamer. Sprinkle the fish with the sake. If you are using a metal steamer, line the underside of the lid with a cotton cloth to prevent condensed steam from dripping over the fish. Cover the steamer, and steam the fish over high heat for 18 to 20 minutes or until the eye turns very white and pops up. About two minutes before the fish is done, add the shiitake and broccoli to the steamer and steam the fish and vegetables together.
Serving and
Garnishing the fish:

1 Tablespoon peeled julienned ginger
1 naga negi long onion or
5 thick scallions,
julienned in 3-inch lengths
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup nihaizu dressing
Using two spatulas, carefully transfer the cooked fish to a large serving platter. Arrange the vegetables next to the fish. Garnish the top of the fish with the julienned ginger or long onion or scallion.
In a small saucepan, heat the sesame oil until it is sizzling but not smoking. Pour the sesame oil over the fish.
Serve the fish with nihaizu dressing in a small bowl on the side. At the table the host may serve the fish to each of the diners, removing the flesh from the bone. Be careful not to swallow bones.
Nihaizu Dressing: 1/4 cup komezu (rice vinegar), 2 Tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce): In a small saucepan, combine both ingredients, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, and let the mixture cool. Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week. (1/2 cup dressing) page 73
I found some nice looking golden beets with lovely fresh green tops when I bought the fish, so instead of the mushrooms and broccoli, that is what you see in the pictures. I roasted the beets with olive oil, and did a quick sauté of the greens. I don’t suppose beets are a vegetable used very much in Japan, but I’ve always liked the combination of ginger and beets. To be honest, I did not eat because once the cooking was finished, I just couldn’t look at food. Don’t worry, I’m not developing anorexia—maybe it’s the meds kicking in?
Anyway, Mr. Tess said he enjoyed the meal.


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8 thoughts on “Steamed Ginger-Flavored Snapper

  1. We used to order steamed fish at a long ago favorite Chinese restaurant, and it was heaven. Topped with slivered ginger and scallions and a bit of soy, and just cooked through, it was a rare treat.
    I make it once in a while and always pour over it a tablespoon of hot peanut oil when it’s done.
    I’m sorry you couldn’t eat your beautiful dish, but do hope the meds are having a good effect.

    • From what I can find out, this is both a Chinese and a Japanese cooking method for fish. I sort of remember eating something like this in a Chinese restaurant. But for home cooking, I’m betting most folks don’t have a large enough steamer to cook a whole fish this way, unless you cut it in half.
      But I’m thinking the technique would work for fillets of fish…

      As to not eating, I don’t know if that’s a meds thing or not. I could lose about 400 pounds, though, so I’m not at all worried about it. I really want the drugs to work, so I’m hoping this is just a bit of a glitch.

      • Tess, I’ve done fish filets and the method does work beautifully. If done properly, they are succulent and not a bit dry.

        As to not eating, may that indeed be a glitch. No matter how much you need to lose, not eating at all is not a good way to do it, plus the consideration that you’d likely get sick. You will call your doctor if the lack of appetite continues, I know.

        Best of luck,

        • Yes, I have an appointment with my doctor next week. (My husband insisted.)

          Not being hungry is really weird for me! I ate some dinner last night so he would stop bothering me about it.

          We wrote our own wedding vows, and I don’t recall including that line about wives obeying their husbands, though. ;-)

  2. I didn’t promise to obey my husband, either, but this is a different matter.

    That you ate only so that Mr. Tess would stop bothering you says worlds about the way you’re feeling about food right now, and it’s not normal.

    I don’t blame you for not wanting to go to the doctor, but I do think you should, in this instance. Perhaps he/she can help, though I don’t have a lot of faith in the medical profession. ;-)

    • My remark about the wedding vows was just meant to be funny. I can still find some amusing contradictions in my life: he’s telling me what’s good for me, like the food issue and the doctor appointment, but you know that unless I’d already made the decision to do something about this depression I wouldn’t listen to a word he said. Vows or no…

      You are right, “not normal,” but not so bad as long as I address the issue. It’s a start anyway. As for doctors, well, I don’t know. At least I like her, and she was helpful in the past. The drugs were, anyway.


  3. I knew you were being funny, but I understand your husbands POV, too. If my husband weren’t eating, I’d tell him what was good for him, too, just because I would feel helpless. But if he did the same to me, I’d not be happy. It’s a quandry.

    You are right, of course. It’s up to you, and again I wish you well.

    I forgot to tell you how much I like your hair color. You and kitty almost match. :)


  4. Pingback: Steamed Ginger-Flavored Fish « Tess’s Japanese Kitchen

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