Steamed Trout, Chinese Style


Ever since I can remember, we’ve had this July 4th family tradition of going up to Lake Tahoe and watching the fireworks. This year we were on our way back from China, and didn’t quite make it, but my 84-year-old dad did, and I’m glad, because on his way back he paid a visit and gave me two fresh rainbow trout that he had caught in the Truckee River. After he scaled the fish, gave my two boys an anatomy lesson by cutting through the vent (don’t break the gall bladder by the way), and showed us what the fish ate for lunch (another little fish and some bugs), it was my turn to cook! The problem with my dad’s fish is that there is never a wok or pan big enough, and Chinese people always cook fish with the head and tail on. So if you fancy whole fish, here is an easy recipe, but you’re own your own with the pan. I steam the fish. To make the sauce, heat peanut or canola oil, soy sauce and some cooking wine. I like a 3:1 proportion on the oil and soy sauce, and it’s a splash of the cooking wine. Heat the sauce until it boils vigorously. Sometimes I’ll add few black beans (the salted, fermented kind from Chinese grocery stores, or you can buy them in a jar, but they are usually mashed in that form). Add a little chili or sesame oil, if you fancy. Pour onto the hot fish. Garnish with thinly sliced fresh ginger, scallions, and cilantro. Serve with rice.