Saturday, October 6, 2012

I cooked: Steamed Siakap (barramundi) in Soy Sauce 清蒸鱼

How many of you grew up hearing this phrase from your parents (especially the Asian ones)?  -"If you eat lots of fish, you will become smarter!".

Thankfully, this is not a line I have to repeat to my kids as they would happily eat fish without me having to tell them. In fact, whenever we have steamed fish in our house, THEY would always ask for an extra portion! And then, they will thank their grandpa (who buys the seafood for us) for the lovely fish. Isn't that lovely of them?

Since we practice a "no deep frying" rule in our house, we will only buy fish if it's VERY FRESH because we always steam it. Yes, fish needs to be fresh when you plan to steam it or else you will get all sort of funny smells and tastes.

Steamed siakap in soy sauce

How to steam fish? Steaming fish is not difficult - the cooking time all depends on the size of your fish. Usually fish fillet will take 8 minutes and a medium size fish (eg 8 inch pomfret) would take around 10 minutes to steam. A trick I learnt from my mum to check whether it is cooked is to insert a skewer or chopstick in the centre (thickest part of the fish) and if it goes all the way through then the fish is cooked. Easy peasy!

Last week, we purchased a fresh siakap which is also known as barramundi, sea perch or Asian seabass in English. You can use some lime juice to clean the stomach to remove any "muddy" smells. For steamed fish, you can use both salty or sweet soy sauce, but we prefer the salty one. With very fresh fish, it needs very little condiments, so usually we just add julienned old ginger, fried shallot and garlic, a dash of Shaoxing wine and soy sauce. This is the best way to enjoy fresh fish, and its natural sweetness and flavours.




Steamed Asian Seabass / siakap 清蒸鱼(石甲)
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 13 minutes
Serves 4

1 whole siakap (barramundi), approx. 750g
2 inch old ginger, julienned
1 shallot, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp light soy sauce (either salty or sweet)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp cooking oil
Spring onion or coriander, to garnish
1 whole red chilli, sliced (optional)


1. Clean the fish and pat dry. Use the lime juice to "wash" the stomach to remove any muddy smells.

2. Using a sharp knife, split the fish in the middle (like "butterflying" a fish but without removing the backbone). This is optional (more for nicer appearance), you can also just steam the fish whole as it is.

3. In a large stainless steel plate / heatproof dish, place half the ginger and then top with the fish, then top the rest of the ginger on the fish. Pour sesame oil and Shaoxing wine over the fish and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

4. In a frying pan over medium high heat, heat the cooking oil and add garlic and shallot. Fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

5. Pour oil, shallot and garlic over the fish and add soy sauce. Place in steamer over high heat, and steam for 10 minutes. To test if the fish is cooked, insert a skewer in the centre (thickest part of the fish), if the skewer goes through all the way, the fish is cooked.

6. Remove from heat and garnish with spring onion, coriander and chilli. If giving this to children, you can omit the chillies.



*This recipe was featured on Asian Food Channel's FB page on 15 Oct 2012.

30 comments:

  1. Hi Baby Sumo, I'm coming over for lunch.....LOL
    Nice presentation and yummy fish.

    Have a nice day, regards.

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  2. I love to steam sea bass too! This looks delicious. I am lousy at choosing fish from wet market so my mother in law does that for me.

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    Replies
    1. Yup, no better way to eat fresh seafood than this :)

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    2. Mich: Haha I'm also useless when it comes to choosing fish, my mum or dad usually chooses it for me. That's why I usually just buy fish fillet cos it's easier. :P

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    3. Esther: My kids also love this style of cooking. :)

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  3. Love how you used the chili to make the flower... Nice.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Arthur. Just simple decor for the food to make it more attractive. :)

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  4. my family in malacca loves steamed fish too, and this looks similar to one of the recipes that my aunt makes. i'd happily eat the whole fish on my own if i could! :D

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    Replies
    1. It's one of the dishes I used to think was really difficult to prepare cos I didn't want to oversteam the fish. But thx to my mum, I have perfected this ;)

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  5. I love steamed fish, my mum will always put some hamp choy (salted veggie) and shun mui (sour plum for cooking). :)

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    Replies
    1. Oooo I know that style.. very appetizing right! I love to drink the sauce/soup.

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  6. the fish looks great. would love to have one of those right now!

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    Replies
    1. Can can.. come back and we cook for you!

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  7. haha i'm hopeless in choosing or recognizing fish if they are not salmon or tuna.. steamed fish is yum. my fav is teochew style!

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    1. Haha! I can tell a few more other fish than that, but still not pro enough to tell if it's fresh or not :P

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  8. Hehe my dad is crazy for this dish although they never told us it would make us smarter! Come to think of it, he doesn't like to share it so perhaps that's why he didn't tell us! :P

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    1. Haha smart dad! I only used to eat certain types of fish when I was younger, so it was a line mum used to tell me to get me to eat more! Hehe. Who doesn't like being clever? :P

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  9. Hi Baby Sumo,
    I am lousy in choosing fish too..I guess nowadays we are so luck to have our parent and in laws to help up..hehe
    That is a very good practice of no deep fry at home. I should follow this good practice ...:)
    Love your lovely steamed barramundi, my boys would appreciated that very much! They super love to eat fish...hehe
    mui..^^

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    Replies
    1. Hehe I told my mum that I need to follow her to the wet market and start learning how to choose fresh fish. Or make friends with the fishmonger, and let pick the good ones for me. ;)

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  10. i love steamed fish :) simple with natural sweetness from the fish

    Latest: Mookata: Smell your BBQ Flavour

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  11. Yes, yes, yeas, I got cheated for so many times when I was young & now I use the same trick to tell my children, hahaha! Barramundi is a famous type of fish that is used in modern Aussie cuisine!

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    Replies
    1. Hehe actually I didn't know barramundi was called siakap in Malay until I did some research. Cos usually when I eat barramundi in a Western restaurant, it's always a fillet.

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  12. Love this comforting dish. Fresh and yummy!!

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    Replies
    1. I also love this style of cooking with pomfret!

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  13. I just made this, and added Shaoxing wine based on your recipe - I don't think my mum used to add that. Noms! Thanks for the recipe, Hueyyen!

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    Replies
    1. Pegs, thanks for trying out my recipe! Really pleased that you liked it. My mum was the one who taught me to put Shaoxing wine on the fish, it makes the fish meat a little more "taut". :)

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  14. My children prefer deep fried fish than steamed fish, impressed with your kids appreciate with steamed fish.

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  15. my mom's recipe is similar but calls for a bit of maggie seasoning. :S

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