October 29, 2016 – I have become a fan of the wok. Such an ingenious cooking method! Simple. Quick. And yet delivering a complexity of flavors that challenge slow-cooking.
But Chinese cooking isn’t all about stir fry. Our most recent experience was with steaming. My wife liked the idea because it is a healthy cooking process. I liked the idea because I haven’t had much experience with steaming protein. And because my wife liked the idea.
Steaming alone isn’t going to provide much in the way of flavor. The trick is in a nicely balanced marinade. Marinating fish is not a long process. Left to soak too long fish will become mushy and unpalatable. 15 to 30 minutes is plenty of time for fish to soak up whatever delicious flavors it’s bathing in.
I decided to use tilapia. It’s a very versatile fish for one thing. And for another, my wife likes it. Enough said.
Tilapia is not native to North America. It comes from North Africa and the Middle East. It is mentioned by the ancient Egyptians who prized it, as do we, for its versatility. And it can be farmed, guaranteeing a plentiful, inexpensive supply.
Not all fish can be farmed with impunity. Please indulge me for a moment as I once again declare my undying opposition to farmed salmon. I can only imagine the claustrophobic impact of forced pooling of one of the Earth’s most beautiful wild species. I would just as soon eat a piece of cardboard as to accept farmed salmon. In fact, the cardboard might have more nutrients. While we’re at it, I’ll double down on that opposition when it comes to the monstrous genetically modified salmon now being pushed at us. Frankenfish is simply not acceptable. It’s wild caught salmon, preferably Alaskan, or nothing.
Having spewed out that bit of food dogma, let me hasten to say that there are species of seafood that can be farmed without loss of nutrients or flavor. In Louisiana and other southern states catfish have been successfully farmed for decades. The same for crawfish, in a brilliant rotating use of rice paddies. Grow rice for half the year; crawfish for the other half. The crawfish feed on bits of rice left behind after the harvest. The crawfish fertilize the paddy for the next crop of rice.
Farming works for some species. Tilapia, among them.
Here’s the recipe we developed for our steamed tilapia. As we have done recently, we used coconut aminos. My wife believes coconut aminos to be healthy. Again, enough said.
You can use soy sauce in place of the coconut aminos. If you do, add a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Either way this marinade is sweet.
Sweet and delicious.
1 pound tilapia filets
Salt to taste
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut aminos or soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons dry white wine
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 green onions, cut into pieces of one or two inches
2 slices ginger root, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Sesame seed oil to taste
Cut the fish into bite size pieces. Salt to taste.
Mix the coconut aminos (or soy sauce) with the wine and olive oil. Add the green onion and ginger. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the marinade.
Add the fish, being sure to coat each piece with the mixture. Let the fish marinate for half an hour.
Place the fish and green onions in a steamer. Steam for eight to ten minutes.
Heat the marinade in a separate pot.
Lay the steamed fish and green onions over a bed of rice. Spoon the warm marinade over the fish and rice. Sprinkle with sesame seed oil.