Lessons from a Chinese Roommate Part 2: Whole Steamed Fish

I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater so I was okay with it when one of the restaurants I worked in started serving whole sardines, head and all. As I watched the waiters get squemish, I was a little bummed that these staff of a seafood restaurant would be so scared of a fish head. It brought me back to my first whole fish experience, watching Tracey steam up whole trout in our kitchen, then excitedly pluck out the eyeballs.

So I mosied down to my local Whole Foods and picked up a nice whole trout. It was cleaned already, which was nice, since I have no idea how one cleans a fish. To be honest, a trout will have plenty of flavor with just a bit of lemon stuck in it, but I took this to the next step, throwing in some of the green chili paste I got at the Indian shop last week, as well as some lemon. I gave it a quick sear in a hot oiled pan, then I situated the whole thing on a plate atop some of the fresh swiss chard from the garden. Put the whole thing (plate and all) on a steam rack in a pan and steamed it for about ten minutes, flipped it and about 5 more. The fish came out perfectly. in each bite you got the soft fish flesh, a hint of bright lemon and then the bite of the hot chile paste. We tore through one side, though B refused an eyeball or a cheek (tiny on the trout, yet still delicious!).

 This is about as simple as a meal can get, yet it was so tasty and so fresh. Reminds you that cooking is not all stressing and mixing. Sometimes its just putting the right thing in to the pan. And not being squemish about fish heads.


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