Growing up, my grandmother loved to cook fish, normally steamed as she enjoyed simple, healthy foods. Her dishes were never complicated, and her style of cooking often simply let the main ingredients shine without a fuss. Whether it was dried salted fish or fresh fish from the market, she would skillfully prepare it and steam the whole fish to perfection, topping it with ginger, scallions and my favorite seafood soy sauce.
Now when I eat Chinese style steamed fish, it brings back memories of my grandmother scooping a steamy bowl of fluffy white rice from her clay pot and spooning the seafood soy sauce from the side of the steamed fish dish onto my bowl of rice before handing it to me. The slightly sweet seafood soy sauce mixed with the freshly steamed juices of the fish was incredibly aromatic and was SO GOOD over rice. Honestly, I enjoyed eating plain white rice with the steamed fish sauce more than eating the fish itself as a kid. It was simple, but delicious.
Another favorite part about steamed fish? Eating the cheek of the fish, right below the eye. It was always the most tender piece of fish meat and something my grandmother and father always dug out for me or my sister to enjoy. It made me feel loved and special to be given the best part of the fish.
Wilson and I recently visited Shan Shan Noodles on Route 46 in Parsippany, NJ and we had ordered a steamed fish dish with chili peppers off their specials menu. Despite how full we were from our usual noodle orders, we somehow were able to try and eat the fish dish, and boy were we glad that we did. Immediately, we fell in love with the authentic, fresh flavors and the ease in eating the smooth, velvety flounder fish fillets without worrying about bones or skin. We loved that every bite was fish, and I especially loved the hint of heat from the chili peppers. The dish itself is not spicy so you could easily remove the chili peppers as well.
This recipe that I am sharing today is my take on the dish from Shan Shan Noodles, with some influence from my grandmother's cooking of steamed fish as well. Topped with chili peppers, ginger, scallion, shiitake mushrooms, fried garlic bits, prickly ash oil, seafood soy sauce and mirin, the steamed marinaded flounder filets are sweet with a slight kick from the chili pepper and mild "numbing" from the prickly ash oil. The shiitake mushrooms then add a bit of earthiness to the dish while the fried garlic bits provide a bit of texture and umami flavor boost.
• 2 fillets of flounder, cut into pieces
• 2 teaspoons white pepper
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 2 inch knob of ginger, slices thinly and julienned
• 2 scallions stalks, sliced finely
• 2 teaspoons sesame oil
• 2 teaspoons prickly ash oil
• 1 long chili pepper
• 1 tablespoon mirin
• 1 tablespoon of the seafood soy sauce
1. Slice the flounder fillets into sashimi sliced cuts, round 2-3 inches per slice. The should resemble small chicken tenders in size.
2. Place sliced flounder into a mixing bowl and add salt, white pepper, sesame oil, mirin, and cornstarch. Mix well until flounder is well coated.
3. Slice up the ginger and scallion into fine thin strips. Chop up the chili pepper and place half of the sliced ginger and scallion on a plate for the fish to steam on.
4. Place the fish slices onto the steam plate, feel free to sprinkle some ginger, scallion and chili pepper in between layers of fish if you are piling the fish into a smaller steaming plate or bowl. Lastly, place the steam fish plate into the steamer rack and steam for 15 minutes. The fish should be completely white and opaque, and easily forked apart to be cooked through.
5. When the fish is done steaming, remove from the steamer and top the fish with the seafood soy sauce, prickly ash oil and sprinkling of fried garlic bits. And that's it! Enjoy over a bowl of white rice and you're good to go!
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do. It's fresh, healthy, and also a great dish to serve to young ones (minus the chili pepper and prickly ash oil) because you don't have to worry about fish bones, and they'll enjoy the fish sauce over rice too!
Just a gal who loves to eat and cook ❤