Lunar New Year was a month ago, but this being an auspicious year, I’ve been blessed with a great deal of happiness in my life and have been too busy editing my film and distracted by my boyfriend to update. (You can usually tell how well my life is going by how infrequently I blog.)
A few weeks ago, I did find time to make dinner with my best friend Mark for some of our oldest and dearest friends to ring in the Year of the Tiger. We made steamed fish, sauteed greens with enoki and straw mushrooms and braised beef shank. We also bought a whole roasted Peking duck and some moon cakes and almond cookies in Chinatown to round out the meal.
By far the biggest hit of the evening was the fish. One of our friends, Nandi, suffers from celiac disease, so we easily substituted regular soy sauce with gluten-free. This dish, usually served with rice, can be prepared for people with wheat allergies.
Whole Steamed Fish
1 whole fish (cleaned and gutted)
2 Scallions (trimmed, cut into quarters)
3 cloves garlic (2 whole to stuff fish and 1 thinly sliced for sauce)
3 tbsp vegetable oil (can substitute for any other light oil)
4 tbsp soy sauce
Cilantro for garnish
Stuff the fish with a couple cloves of garlic and place atop a steam-proof plate and place inside steamer.
Place the steamer atop a large pot of boiling water and steam for approximately 8 minutes. Incidentally, this is an auspicious number in Chinese culture because it is a homophone of the word for prosper.
While the fish is steaming, heat the oil until very hot and add scallions, ginger and garlic. Sautee for less than 30 seconds and remove from heat. Add soy sauce to the pan.
Carefully remove the plate from the steamer and transfer the fish to another plate, tossing away any liquids. The temptation is to reserve anything juicy, but these liquids will make your dish taste very fishy and unpleasant, so get rid of them.
Drizzle the scallion, ginger, garlic soy sauce from the pan all over the fish and garnish with the cilantro.
It will be delicious but resist the urge to eat it all. The fish is never eaten completely to ensure an excess of good fortune or “enough to spare” in the coming year. So leave a little piece and hopefully it’ll pay off.
恭喜發財 Congratulations and be prosperous!
*I got those Chinese characters from a Wikipedia article about Lunar New Year, so if it’s actually something obscene, someone please tell me. I’d hate to end up like those people who get Chinese character tattoos thinking they’ve inked something really profound on their skin only to find out some bitter/humorous tattoo artist or Chinese waiter has been playing a horrific joke on them that they can never wash away: