Steamed Trout with Fried Garlic

Steaming fish is a great southern Chinese tradition and was my mother’s favourite method of cooking fish, for it preserves the purest flavours of the fish. However, fresh fish in the 1950s and 1960s was not as abundant in Chicago’s Chinatown as it is today. We were fortunate when we were able to get fresh trout, a delicacy that requires quick gentle cooking, in which none of the taste is masked. Steaming allowed the trout to remain moist and tender at the same time. It was a perfect dish for a working mother.

The fried garlic at the end added a crunchy aromatic touch.


  • 2 small whole trout, cleaned
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely julienned fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce

For the Garnish

  • 2 tablespoons finely julienned spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced


Pat the trout dry inside and out with kitchen paper. Rub the trout evenly with the salt.

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. Put the trout on a heatproof plate and scatter the ginger evenly over the top, then drizzle on the soy sauce. Put the plate of trout into the steamer or onto the rack. Cover the pan tightly and gently steam the trout until it is just cooked, about 5 minutes.

Remove the plate of cooked trout and scatter the spring onions and coriander leaves over the top. Heat the oil in a small saucepan, toss in the garlic slices and brown them. Pour the garlic-oil mixture over the top of the fish. Serve at once.