This is a dish for special people – I like to make it just for two, or at most four. You need all your time and concentration to balance the aromatics and the hot spices, and to get just the right degree of sweetness and sourness in the sauce. Above all, do not overcook the fish. Steaming is a much faster method of cooking than (say) grilling, so you have less margin for error. Wrappings for the steaming of fish vary from country to country, giving subtly different finishes. I think my very untraditional use of orange juice in the marinade helps bring out the flavour of the fish.
Well ahead, make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients in a glass bowl and marinate the fish in it for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
At the end of this time, take the fish out of the marinade and set aside. Reserve the marinade.
Make the sauce: heat the oil in a saucepan and stir-fry the shallots, garlic and ginger until they are all soft (about 3 minutes). Add the reserved marinade, the nutmeg and the coconut milk or yoghurt, and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
When ready to serve, blanch the Chinese cabbage leaves in boiling water for 20 seconds and refresh in cold water. Lay the leaves on a flat surface and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Lay
Just before serving, reheat the sauce in the saucepan and add the chives and the parsley or coriander leaves. Place the fish parcels on a serving dish and pour the sauce over them. Serve hot. Steamed sweet potatoes are particularly good with this dish, together with, of course, a well-dressed salad.
© 2002 Sri Owen. All rights reserved.