Thursday, November 18, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

"Cupcakes are all about having your own little cake without having to share it"*

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Steamed Whole Fish

What could be easier to make than steamed fish?  I love steamed fish big time and fish loves my heart in return.   It's mutual love and respect.   Whenever I have fresh fish, steaming is the way to go in my books.  Fresh for me means I have witnessed its summary execution or better yet, I was the mastermind who ordered its untimely death. Ugh, it's getting morbid!

Never mind if this is easy, steamed fish for me spells celebration and luxury.  Another one of my food associations.  In Chinese banquets, steamed fish is never out of the menu.  It symbolizes abundance.  It is usually served whole in banquets - from head to tail- because doing so means you have a good beginning and a good ending.  It's also wise to remember not to flip the fish as it's considered bad luck.  It's one of the old superstitions that connote a capsized boat.  Garoupa is usually the banquet fish but of course, you can steam any fish and as long as it's fresh, it's bound to be yummy.  Tilapia is another favorite fish for steaming.  Not only is its flesh soft and flaky, it's also cheaper than garoupa.  

The victim fish in the above photo is garoupa (lapu-lapu).   

1. Wash it thoroughly, rub salt all over the fish then rinse to remove slime if necessary.  
2. Season it with a little salt and  gently massage oil all over its skin to prevent it from sticking to the steamer.  
3. Stuff the cavity with lots of spring onions and ginger and if you have some more left, put it on top of the fish.  
4. Steam for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.  Try poking the thickest part of the fish (near the fin) with a toothpick.  If it's already soft and the toothpick can easily go through, then it's done.  

Do not overcook the fish.  I repeat, do not overcook the fish.  It's a mortal sin.  It could mean the death of a beloved dish.   Some people steam the fish by putting it on a plate first then putting it in a wok with boiling water.  What I always do is to just put the fish directly onto  a rack in a pan of boiling water.  If you do this, just make sure that the water does not touch the fish.   

5. When the fish is done, discard the spring onions and ginger on top of the fish and replace it with fresh ones.  I like adding some coriander for additional flavor.  
6. In a separate wok, heat up about 2 tablespoons of oil until it's smoking hot.  Then pour it all over the fish. 
7.  Pour some light soy sauce over it and serve.  

Voila, a fancy banquet dish that's easy to prepare.  Wow your guests without having to slave over it.  Nanawu's paternal grandparents were here to shower him with love and attention and Tetetmum made sure they're never hungry.  I know Grandpa likes steamed fish so I served this for lunch on the day they arrived and again as my last homecooked meal before they left.  I guess this is just a teeny-weeny way of showing them how much their coming over to spend time with Nanawu meant to me.   
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