In China, fish is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Steamed fish is a popular dish to serve during special occasions, such as formal banquets and holiday dinners. It is a permanent fixture on any Chinese New Year menu. When serving fish on such an occasion, serve it whole-head, tail, and all. This symbolizes a good beginning and a good ending.
- One 1½- to 2-pound whole fish, such as rockfish or snapper, cleaned
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 4 sprigs cilantro
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
Prepare a wok or stir-fry pan for steaming (see Notes). Season the fish inside and out with the salt and pepper. Place the fish on an 8- or 9-inch pie plate or shallow, heatproof dish. Place the dish in the steamer, cover, and steam over high heat until the fish turns opaque and just begins to flake, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the steamer.
Stir the soy sauce and sesame all together in a small bowl. Pour over the steamed fish. Lay the cilantro sprigs over the top of the fish.
In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Carefully pour the hot oil over the fish, stand back, and watch it sizzle. Serve immediately.
Nutritional information is based on using a 1 1/2 lb snapper.