Chinese steamed fish
How I love steamed fish!
Growing up in Guangzhou in the early 1970s, we lived in a rundown 5-bedroom terrace house on a little lane way called the ‘Yayan Lane’ 雅言里 , translated as the ‘elegant words lane’. The house was bought by my grandfather in early 1950s for $1,200 yuan from a tea merchant. At the time there was a ‘movement’ to crack down tax evasion. Like some other small businesses, the tea merchant had to sell his house to pay his tax bill. It was said that most houses on the market were going cheap over that period.
There were many family members lived at the terrace house at various intervals – my great grandmother, my grandparents, my family, 3 uncles & 1 aunt and their families. My grandma cooked dinners for all the families. Food & basic essentials such as rice, oil, meat, fish, coal & fabric were on rations, and we had books of colorful coupons.
There was a state-ran market across the road from our lane way. The market sold all sort of food – meat & vegetables, seafood, Chinese sausages & BBQ meat, tofu, preserves, oil & soy sauce. When very small fish were caught from large schools, sometime coupons were not required. The neighbors always kept a look out for such rare occasions, and we would hear a shout across the lane way. Grandmother and I would grab a bamboo basket as fast as we could, rushed over to join the crowd. There were no such things as lining up – layers of people cramped in front of the concrete table where the fish piled up among large blocks of ice, pushing each other, yelling to attract attention. The fish was always fresh and undeniably small, not longer than my little hand. My grandmother steamed the fish with soy sauce for dinner. Our skinny house cats would fight over the bones & left-over sauce mixed with some rice – a rare treat for them.
Today, we are so very lucky in Australia with all the wonderful seafood, spices & herbs. My favorite method of cooking fish is steaming. From time to time, when I enjoy a good steamed fish, I could still smell the sea at the crowded market place across the road from the Yayan Lane.
Here is my version of steamed fish – fresh & simple. I used Blue Eye Cod on this occasion. You can use most sort of white flesh fish. My favorite fish for steaming is perch.