Thursday, July 17, 2014

3-Minute Microwave Steamed Fresh Fish

That's right, I said microwave! You may be skeptical that this appliance of convenience can churn out anything aside from popcorn and frozen tv dinners, but hear me out and you may just find yourself loving a new recipe that is fast, simple, and healthy.

I owe this recipe to my dad, who's been quite the master in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. My parents have always believed in the importance and value of a good home-cooked meal. When I was young, they worked long hours, but would still come home and make dinner from scratch (although there were, once in a while, a trip to Burger King).

It's no surprise then that my dad would find a way to simplify a popular dish. Steamed fish with ginger and scallions is traditionally made in a steamer, but who has the time for that (or a steamer, for that matter)? This microwave recipe is done in minutes and tastes just as tender and flavorful. It's a family favorite that we go back to again and again.

To get the whole fish used for this recipe, I usually go to a supermarket that has a fresh seafood department, like Wholefoods or a large Asian grocer like Kam Man or H-Mart. They descale and clean the fish so there's even less work for you! Bass is my fish of choice because it has larger and fewer bones, its meat is less "fishy" in flavor, and it's still reasonably priced (in NJ, around $6/lb).

This recipe can serve up to four people depending on the structure of your meal. For four people, this should be simply one of maybe three dishes. For two people, this is sufficient for a meal if you pair it with a hearty side; I often share this with my husband along with a vegetable side dish and rice. And sometimes, you can have the entire fish just. for. yourself :)

1 whole bass (1-1.5 lb, pre-cleaning)
2 scallions
1-inch piece of ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oil


1. Prepare the scallions: trim off the bottom and also any wilted part off the top. Cut into 3" sections. Put aside the white bottom (thickest) sections, then cut the rest of the 3" pieces into thin strips.

2. Prepare the ginger: trim of the peel, then cut into thin strips.

3. Optional: rub the outside and inside of the fish with a small pinch of salt and pepper.

4. Lay the fish down on a plate, propped up by the two 3" scallion pieces, place one piece near the head and one piece near the tail (this prevents the skin on the underside of the fish from sticking to the plate when it cooks). Spread the shredded scallion and ginger all over the top of the fish. Remember to also put some in the stomach cavity.

5. Cover the plate with clear food/seran wrap (not too tightly) and put it in the microwave. Set the timer to 4 minutes and press start! The exact cook time will depend on the size of your fish. You will want to check in on your fish around the 3-minute mark--once its eyes have turned white, then the fish is done--at which point you want to stop the cooking to avoid toughening the meat. For your reference, a 1 lb. fish is usually done in 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

Tip: some popping and sizzling is normal during cooking. When the fish is done, leave it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds before carefully removing the plate, it can get very hot!

6. Remove the fish from the microwave and carefully remove the clear wrap, the steam trapped inside is very VERY hot.

7. Prepare the sauce: combine the soy sauce and oil in a small bowl. Cover lightly with clear wrap (a napkin or dish would also do) and heat it up in the microwave for 10 seconds.

8. Pour the sauce all over the fish. Now dig in!

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