Black Bean-Steamed Fish: Steaming is a favored Chinese method of cooking fish. This recipe pairs salty
black beans with your choice of fish steaks (try cod, striped bass, halibut, or
salmon) or fillets (flounder, sole, black cod, or bass) for a simple heart-healthy
dish. Ask your fishmonger for fish pieces of similar weight and shape so they
cook at the same rate.
Time: 20 minutes (10 minutes active)
Makes: 4 servings as part of a multicourse family-style meal
1 tablespoon Chinese salted black beans, rinsed,
drained, and dried
1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 large clove)
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger (from a ½-inch piece)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Four 1-inch-thick fish steaks or fillets (about 6 ounces each)
Chopped green onions for garnish
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Crush the beans in a small bowl with the back of a spoon. Add the garlic,
ginger, cornstarch, and soy sauce and mix well to form a thick paste.
Set up your steamer (see page xv for other steaming options). Fill the steamer
pan half full of water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat
to medium until you are ready to steam.
Place the fish on a greased pie plate (or rimmed platter) that will fit inside the
steamer without touching the sides. The size of your steamer will determine how
many pieces of fish you can steam at a time. Spread the paste evenly over one
side of each piece of fish. Set the plate of fish in the steamer basket or rack.
Return the water in the steamer to a rolling boil. Set the steamer basket or rack
on top of the steamer pan. Cover and steam for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the flesh
turns opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
Turn off the heat and wait for the steam to subside before lifting the lid. Lift it
away from you to prevent scalding yourself and to keep condensation from
dripping onto the fish. Carefully remove the fish and garnish with green onions
and cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately with freshly steamed rice and a vegetable
Notes: Steaming time depends on the thickness and texture of the fish.
Thicker steaks and denser varieties will take longer. I prefer to err on the side of
undercooking. Check for doneness early and continue steaming if the fish isn’t
cooked enough to your taste. You can always cook it a little longer, but once fish
is overcooked, you’ll be eating cardboard.