Aromatic Steamed Salmon Trout

One evening, I cooked dinner for my brother and sister-in-law, visiting from Hong Kong. I showed them the silver, gleaming salmon trout that I had bought that morning from Emi at Hampstead Seafoods, my local fishmonger. How long are you going to steam it? Bettina asked. About 12 minutes, I told her. She approved, as 14 minutes would have been much too long. She was concerned lest I overcooked the fish head, which she delicately dismantles and elegantly consumes with chopsticks.

Ingredients

  • approx. 1.25 kg (2½lbs) salmon or sea trout seasoning
  • large thumb of ginger
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • parsley stalks
  • 1 lemon grass stalk or lemon zest

Method

Have the fish scaled and cleaned and cut off the fins. Season the fish lightly. Lightly oil the tray which fits inside the fish kettle, and place the fish on it. Put it in a cool place. Put about 1.15 litres (2 pints) water in the fish kettle, and place the aromatics in the kettle in such a way that the rack will fit on top and you can still get the lid on. Cutting a narrow slice off the top and bottom of the onion before halving it gives a firm base. Put the lid on, and bring the water to the boil. Put the fish, on its tray, inside the kettle, put the lid back on, and steam for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, and lift the tray out of the kettle to prevent the fish cooking more. Transfer to a serving platter, and serve hot, warm or cold.

When salmon trout is in season, in early summer, Jersey potatoes and samphire are perfect accompaniments. The samphire, after picking over and rinsing, I simply blanch for about 2 to 3 minutes, drain, and toss in a little butter. If you can get enough of it, it makes a marvellous first course to a fish dinner, eaten like asparagus in the fingers and dripping with melted butter.

Steamed fish needs no sauce, but on the other hand, a white wine and butter sauce would not be out of place. Such a sauce can also be flavoured with soy sauce, crushed lemon grass, fresh ginger or other aromatics, if you wish to heighten the oriental overtones. I like to eat steamed fish with extra-virgin olive oil over it and the potatoes.

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