Photo Credit:Bon Appétit
No special equipment required.
Jessie YuChen’s Special Steamed Whole Fish
was a revelation. By nestling a whole fish atop a bed of onions, ginger, and scallions instead of on a steaming rack, YuChen avoids calling for any special equipment. Plus, YuChen puts to rest, once and for all, the false assumption that steamed food is drab, bland, or boring. As the fish cooks, the aromatics at the bottom of the pot perfume its flesh and the juices from the fish seep back into the aromatics, creating a built-in brothy, tender vegetable side. It’s a delicious give-and-take.
The good news is you can use this technique with almost any veg or protein you have in your fridge. Here are YuChen’s tips on how to do it successfully.
Get creative with your protein.
A whole fish, like in YuChen’s recipe, makes for a stunning presentation, but it’s not the only option. Blocks of firm, marinated tofu, whole prawns, lobster, crab, and pork or seafood meatballs are all delicious here—just be careful about steaming more than one type of protein at once, as they’re likely to have different cook times. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to stay away from proteins that typically need a good sear to taste their best. Red meat and poultry may not be at their best in this application.
Pick a sturdy veggie base.
“Look for veggies with structure,” YuChen says. This isn’t the time to reach for the greens in your crisper drawer that’ll wilt at the first kiss of heat (hello, baby spinach and watery lettuce). Instead, you’ll want hardier vegetables, like winter squash, roots like daikon radish, oyster mushrooms, the whites of scallions, broccoli or cauliflower, or a bed of greens that you’re okay with going tender (kale, bok choy, cabbage). “It will work for any vegetable with a steaming time of around 8 minutes,” YuChen advises.
You’ll want to cut your vegetables evenly to ensure uniform cooking time and to offer a level surface for your protein to rest on. Make sure your vegetable base elevates your protein at least a couple of centimeters above the bottom of the pan—otherwise, you’ll be braising rather than steaming.
It’s all about the aromatics.
This is the fun part. Add a wide variety of aromatics to your vegetable base (the ratio of aromatics to vegetables is up to you and what you have available), as they make up the bulk of the flavor your protein will soak up during the steaming process. Fresh ginger, scallion greens, garlic,
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