The flavours of this dish are similar to the steamed snapper with ginger and spring onion, except that the introduction of black beans really kicks the intensity along. When I’m cooking this at home, I often add a few chopped red chillies to really spark things up. I know that a lot of cookbooks advise you to wash the black beans, but I believe it takes away too much of their flavour. Again though, look for balance — if this is too strong for you, just add fewer beans. As an easy steamed dish this fits well with a braise and a stir-fry to create a wonderful shared table.
Put the spring onions in a large shallow heatproof bowl and place the fish on top. Combine the black beans, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and shaoxing and pour over the fish. Put the bowl in a large bamboo steamer over a pot or a wok of rapidly boiling water, cover with the lid and steam for 7–8 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Carefully remove the bowl from the steamer.
Heat the peanut oil in a small pot until just smoking and douse the fish with the hot oil before serving.
Prawns and scallops are great with this sauce, but you could use any fish you like. I sometimes cook large Pacific oysters this way as well; they make a great starter for a grand gathering. Of course, if you really want to spoil your guests, split a lobster or chop up a mud crab — that would turn your meal into a royal banquet.
Chicken thighs and pork spare ribs also go well with this sauce. As a matter of fact, it goes well with just about anything!
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