I’ve almost (almost!) worked my way through all of our wedding presents. I think we actually did a really nice job of registering for things that we will actually use in life. Some of my pans are already a bit worn which I take as a good sign!
One of the presents that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while now was a bamboo steamer we received. I knew that I would use it and it would be awesome, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Dumplings would be the obvious choice (I’ll make those later now that I’m warmed up), but I wanted to start with something even simpler.
Steamed fish is pretty hard to screw up because even if you overcook it, the moisture keeps it really tender. I served this with a really delicious roasted veggie side and some good crusty bread. It was a hit!
1) For the veggies, chop them all in slices (except the grapes). Try to keep them in fairly thick slices since you're going to be roasting them on pretty high heat.
2) Toss them with some olive oil and salt and pepper.
3) Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir them a few times throughout the cooking process to make sure they are cooking evenly.
4) For the fish, remove the skin by sliding a sharp long knife along the skin. Try to remove it as close to the skin as possible.
5) Take a pair of tweezers and remove any pin bones in the fish or at least warn your diners that there will be bones in the fish.
6) Cut the fish into 4-6 ounce pieces and salt and pepper them. Layer them over a bed of greens in your bamboo steamer and set the steamer over a pot of simmering water.
7) Steam for 10 minutes (or longer depending on fish thickness).
8) Serve everything as soon as possible!
Like I said, I used a nice bamboo steamer for this dish, but it’s not necessary to have one of these to make the dish. It’s just a heckuva lot easier if you do have one.
If you don’t though, here are two other methods you could use to steam the fish:
1) Make a Steamer – It’s a bit of work, but using instructions like these you can get creative and make a steamer that holds your fish and produces steam. The problem with a system like this is that it isn’t terribly efficient. The steam doesn’t really cook the fish as it rises. But it will work.
2) Wrap it in parchment – You can also just wrap the fish in parchment paper with some salt and pepper and bake it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so. The parchment will seal in any moisture from the fish, effectively steaming it. I’ve made fish like this a few times and it’s always really good.
All of that said though, this steamer was the easiest thing to use ever.
Before we get into that though, let’s talk about the roasted veggies.
This might look like kind of a weird assortment of veggies, but trust me, the flavor combination is out of this world good. I was obviously really skeptical about the grapes. Will they explode? Will they burn? The answer is neither really, but they are tasty and go well with the other flavors.
Because we are roasting these guys, keep them in fairly large chunks. For the fennel, cut off the green stems and cut it down the center. Then remove the inner core and roughly slice the layers.
Everything else should be pretty standard to slice up. Just add everything to a large bowl and toss it with the olive oil and salt and pepper!
Lay this out on two baking sheets and bake it at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. Be sure to stir it a few times as it cooks to make sure it cooks evenly.
For this recipe, I bought a nice piece of salmon and cut it down myself. If you have a friendly fishmonger they might take care of this for you, but I consider it good practice.
To take the skin off the fish, take a sharp (preferably long and thin) knife and slowly run it down the length of the fish between the skin and the meat. The skin should separate pretty easily. Then you can chop your salmon into four even pieces!
Don’t forget the pin bones! Salmon almost always have a series of inter-muscular bones called pin bones. The only reason it wouldn’t have these bones if it was processed for you already. These bones are usually about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches from the back side of the fillet. If you want to provide your guests with a flawless salmon eating experience, take a pair of tweezers and pluck out all the bones.
If you’re me and feeding a some hungry people, just warn them that there will be some bones and skip this step.
Season each piece of salmon well with salt and pepper and lay them in your steamer on a bed of greens. Spinach works well for this or just any salad greens that you might have.
What about the Skin?
You know me… I hate wasting stuff. Salmon skin happens to be one of the things that I hate wasting more than other things because you can make delicious salmon chips out of it!
Just slice the skin into strips and add them to a hot skillet with a bit of oil. Cook them for a few minutes until they are really crispy and golden brown. Then drain them on a towel.
Everyone will look at you funny until they try them. There will be no leftovers.
Back to the veggies
The veggies definitely take the longest to cook, so you want to start them first. When they are done they’ll be a mix of textures and flavors that is just really wonderful. The fennel goes well with the fish and the grapes are kind of sweet.
I’m making this mix again for sure.
Cooking the Salmon
Once you have the fish cut into appropriate pieces, it’s dumb simple to cook assuming you have a steamer. Just stack the steamer up and set it over a pot of simmering water. After about 10 minutes the fish should be perfectly cooked. It might take a few minutes longer depending on the thickness of your fish.
I even served it with some of the wilted greens that it steamed on.
I served it with some crusty bread that I toasted a bit.
This was a very healthy and simple dish to make. I made it on a week night actually.
I liked the fish the best, but Betsy was a big fan of the roasted veggies. I think I caught her sneaking some later in the night…