Steamed Halibut with Ginger and Spring Onions

I remember this dish from my childhood with great fondness. It is quite unpretentious, simple but really delicious, and I always felt it was one of my mother’s favourites. Halibut was relatively inexpensive in the 1950s and 1960s, so we enjoyed it whenever it was in season and most fresh. The steaming technique kept its firm flesh moist and tender – steaming is usually the best fish-cooking technique – and the addition of ginger and spring onions infused the fish with perfectly harmonious flavours.

This is a fine example of southern Chinese home cooking at its best: simple ingredients blended carefully and respectfully.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) halibut fillets
  • teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 4 tablespoons Chinese Chicken Stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 8 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 5 spring onions, cut into 7.5 cm (3 in) pieces

Method

Cut the halibut fillets into 5 cm (2 in) chunks. Place the fish in a heat-proof bowl and toss well with the salt. Drizzle in the rice wine and stock, then scatter the ginger and spring onions around the fish.

Next set up a steamer, or put a rack into a wok or deep pan, and fill it with 5 cm (2 in) of water. Bring the water to the boil over a high heat. Carefully lower the bowl onto the rack. Turn the heat to low and cover the wok or pan tightly. Steam gently for 15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked. When it is cooked, the fish should be firm to the touch.

Remove from the steamer and serve at once with rice.

Variation

This recipe is just as delicious with salmon fillets or any firm white fish fillets, such as sea bass.

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