To the Chinese, steamed fish is always a favourite. There are many reasons why steaming the fish is preferred over other methods of cooking it. Firstly, it is much healthier and secondly, most of the nutrients of the fish are retained. Ensure that the fish is fresh, of course!
To prepare this dish, it is best to use white fish like cod, bass or grouper. Use just the fish fillet if you prefer but to the Chinese, it is important to serve the fish as a whole, with the head and tail intact during the festive season. It is considered auspicious to have fish served during the reunion dinner, which takes place a day before Chinese New Year as the pronunciation of fish in Chinese ("Yu") sounds similar to the word surplus. Hence, having a whole fish to begin the year signifies the start of a new year with surplus and abundance!
Despite being a fairly easy dish to prepare, the flesh of the fish will be tough if it is steamed for too long. Depending on the size and thickness of the fish, steaming a fish normally takes around 15-20 minutes.
Rinse the fish and use a paper towel to pat it dry. Place fish on a plate and put ginger pieces and spring onions on and underneath the fish to get rid of the fishy smell. Pour Shaoxing wine on the fish.
Steam fish for 10 minutes. After steaming the fish for the last 10 minutes, remove the ginger slices and spring onions. Drain excess water and continue to steam for a further 10 minutes.
Heat up oil and pour on the fish. This will give the fish a beautiful shine.
Using the same pan, add soy sauce and give it a quick stir. Turn the heat to medium-low and add water. Add sugar, white pepper and sesame oil. Allow gravy to simmer and once it starts to boil, turn off the stove. Pour gravy on the fish. Garnish with fresh slices of ginger, spring onion and chillies.