Baked fish: Chinese style
Out of everything Chinese that I cook, my favorite dish is the steamed fish. Through steaming, the fish meat becomes very tender, and since it is cooked in its own juices with simple ingredients, the taste is very delicate and light. If I could cook it every day, I would.
Enter the problem. My pot is too shallow to fit a steamer rack and a plate for any reasonable-sized fish to steam well. For the longest time living on my own, without my mom’s deep steaming pot, I did not eat any steamed fish because it would have just turned out overcooked on the side facing the plate, and undercooked on the side facing the pot lid. Solution?
I bought the fish at the local Chinese supermarket and had the butcher flake off the scales and take out the bitter stomach. At home, I cut off the fins so that they don’t stab me while I am digging into it when eating.
I achieved the same taste profile as a steamed fish by similarly stuffing the ginger and scallions beneath the fish and inside the stomach cavity. After reasonably slathering the skin in oil and some soy sauce, I stuck it in the oven, covered, for about half an hour. Sometimes if I want to eat the skin and let it get a little crispy, I take a little time off of the covered baking time, and let it roast for the remaining period. Delicious!
2 lb fresh fish, scaled and de-stomach’ed
6 stalks of green onion
1.5-inch knob of ginger
1 Tbsp olive oil or sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cut green onion stalks into 3-inch-long pieces. Cut ginger into quarter-inch-thick slices. Score the fish on both sides with several slits.
3. Lay 5 of the green onion stalks among the bottom of a baking dish, along with several of the ginger slices. Lay the fish atop the bed of green onions and stuff the remaining green onion and ginger slices in the cavity. Slather the oil and the soy sauce on the top portion of the skin.
4. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes, depending on how thin the fish is and how much it weighs. Check to see if it is fully cooked by flaking with a fork. If it just begins to flake, take out of the oven.
5. Serve warm in the baking dish.