Sunday, February 10 marks the Lunar New Year, which is all the excuse we need to get chopsticks-deep in some Chinese delicacies. The traditional dishes eaten around this time carry special symbolic significance to the Chinese people, paving the way for health, wealth, and happiness. In his good luck guide to traditional Chinese New Year ingredients, our own Digest blogger Eddie Lin explains that fish—specifically whole fish—represents bounty, financial surplus, and unlimited wealth. If you, like us, could use a little boost in any of those departments, Thai chef Jet Tila of the Charleston (whose grandmother was Cantonese) suggests his recipe for steamed rock fish with ginger and green onion. For a little bonus, serve the sweet and salty fish over steamed rice, which symbolizes wealth and prosperity. But be careful, Tila warns. “There are rules to preparing whole fish. Always keep the fish intact while cooking and never turn it over.” Doing could mean an especially slippery Year of the Snake. Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Steamed Rock Fish with Ginger and Green Onion
Active Work time is 15 minutes. Total preparation time is 45 minutes.
“To celebrate the coming of the New Year, the Chinese prepare certain foods because they have a specific meaning. Whole fish symbolizes togetherness and abundance and is a very important New Year’s food; the green onions that top the fish are a sign of brilliance. There are rules to preparing whole fish. Always keep the fish intact while cooking and never turn it over. To serve, filet the upper portion of the fish, cutting horizontally along the bone. Cut the bone at the neck, and then peel it back to remove it and reach the bottom portion of the fish. This is a classic Chinese steamed fish recipe. Serve the poached fish with warm steamed rice, which symbolizes wealth and prosperity. A sweet conclusion to your Chinese New Year meal would be tangerines to guarantee you abundant happiness for the year to come.” -chef Jet Tila
2-3 lbs. Rock Fish, whole with scales, gills, and intestines removed.
1 ½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon White Pepper
½ teaspoon Sugar
4 Chinese Black Mushrooms soaked in warm water for 20 min.
1 ½ teaspoons Garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon Shao Shing Rice Cooking Wine
2 tablespoon Thin Soysauce
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon Cooking Oil
2 Green Onions, Finely Shreded
Cilantro to Garnish
Rinse Fish with cold water and pat dry inside and out. Season fish with salt, pepper and sugar inside and out.
Place fish within a large oval heatproof dish. Evenly sprinkle mushroom, garlic, and ginger.
Combine 1 to 2 Tbsp of reserved mushroom soaking water with Rice wine, and thin soysauce. Drizzle over fish.
Steam at high for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Fish should flake off the bone.
Combine oils in a small saucepan and heat to high for about 2 minutes or until almost smoking.
Drizzle hot oil over fish, it will crackle.
Top fish with shredded green onion and cilantro.