Saturday, June 11, 2011

Black Bean Steamed Fish

Have you ever had black bean steamed fish? You have to try it! Black bean steamed fish done well is definitely one of my favorite dishes from Chinese cuisine. Now, I've done steamed fish before (generally salmon), but I haven't gone for black bean steamed fish. Mostly just an addition to the ingredients of what I was already doing. I recently picked up some flounder filets and tried two approaches to black bean steamed fish. I can't say I know too much about different fish types and how they handle under different cooking methods. But I wanted a white fish, since that's what the dish is usually made with (I think there are a couple species, though I couldn't name them). Well, it turned out the flounder filets, once I opened the bag (I do like me some Costco, though I don't often buy meat there), were rather thin--definitely not one of the usual fish used. To make up for this, I stacked filets two-high so that the cooking time would be slower, which worked out well.

I made a mistake with the first approach (pictured above): although I compensated for the thinness of my filets with respect to cooking time, I didn't compensate for the fact that my four filets was more like two of the thick ones the recipe was referring to. Consequently, the flavor was off; I think there was too much alcohol or maybe salted black bean. Or maybe it was that I simplified the process and didn't pour out the sauce to another dish and transfer the fish after the oil pour, which may have meant that there was excess oil left in the dish, leading to the bitterness. Though, I would have thought that it would have run off the fish. On top of that, the second pair of filets (remember, I stacked them, and I eat leftovers) tasted just fine, good actually, so I'm not sure what was going on.

The second approach, pictured below, went smoothly and turned out well. I'd change some things about the process though, discussed below.

The two approaches split factors of what I'm used to in black bean steamed fish between the two of them. The first one keeps the hot oil pour at the end, but switches out green onion for chives. The second one just puts all the ingredients in and steams the dish without the oil pour, but it uses green onion and has you put the fish on a bed of the flavoring ingredients. Next time, I'm going to have to mix the recipes and change the last segment of process to get to what I prefer. I'd also like to try working with a whole fish some time (that's how it's done in restaurants), though I'll have to learn how to gut a fish, and maybe get a boning knife.


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