Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Steamed Red Snapper with Chiles & Ginger, Braised Baby Bok Choy

This is one of my favorite recipes - it's so quick, easy, and healthy, with lots of delicious yet playful flavors. I love how the snapper delicately absorbs all the spicy chile and ginger juices without any effort on my part at all. In general, the recipes that I (Abby) put up here will require a lot less culinary acumen than Sam's dishes, so you can rely on my posts for our more remedial meals. ;)

The ingredients aren't fancy:
  • 1 (1-pound) red snapper fillet with skin (3/4 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/16-inch-thick matchsticks (1 1/2 inches long)
  • 1 scallion, cut lengthwise into 1 1/2-inch-long very thin strips (1/3 cup)
  • 2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and cut lengthwise into very thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
All you have to do is score the skin of the snapper several times, rub both sides of the fish with a mixture of the sherry and salt, and place it skin side up on an oiled plate (or parchment paper) that can fit in your bamboo steamer. Meanwhile, bring the water in your wok to a boil.

Now, in a small skillet, heat the oil and saute the ginger, scallion, and chiles for about 30 seconds, until fragrant but not browned. Spoon all this over the fish, letting the oil seep into the scored parts. Then, all you have to do is place the plate of fish in your steamer, put the steamer over the boiling water in your wok, and cover it tightly. Steam the fish until it's cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. When you serve the fish over rice, make sure to transfer as much of the yummy juice as possible.

Sam and I like to add some cilantro (here added to the ginger/chile mix) and a squeeze of lime to the dish to top it off. You end up with a lovely mix of well-balanced, subtle flavors - with a bit of a spicy kick! You can check out the original recipe and other peoples' ideas at

Braising the baby bok choy is also very simple. First, mix a teaspoon each of minced garlic and ginger. Then, saute it in a pan big enough to braise the bok choy in. Add enough water to fill the pan about a quarter of the way; a dash of soy sauce and mirin (about two teaspoons each); a quarter teaspon of dashi (which is a kind of japanese fish bullion that's good for soup bases like miso); and 2-3 tablespoons of sake. Leave it on medium-high heat and let the liquid reduce by about half. Reduce the heat to about medium and put the baby bok choy in (we used four small bunches for two people, cut in half). Cover the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes. You can use the braising liquid as a sauce after further reducing it - just remember to strain out the garlic and ginger before serving. That's it! Enjoy!

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