Versions of this steamed fish are made all over China, but in Shanghai the recipe always contains a little aged soy sauce. When Jean-Georges Vongerichten adapted the dish for 66 he couldn't find aged soy in New York and substituted caramelized onions for sweetness and depth of flavor.
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2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
One 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned (3 tablespoons)
One 2 1/2-pound whole black sea bass, cleaned and scaled
Soy sauce, for drizzling
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 scallion, cut into 2-inch julienne strips
How to Make It
Heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over high heat, stirring once or twice, until browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the ginger.
In a large wok, set a round rack that will sit at least 3 inches above the bottom. Add 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Set the fish on a heatproof plate that will fit in the wok and sprinkle the onion and ginger on the fish. Set the plate on the rack, cover the wok and steam the fish over moderate heat until just cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Drizzle the fish with soy sauce. In a small skillet, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut oil with the sesame oil over moderately high heat, then pour it over the fish. Sprinkle with the cilantro and scallion and serve.
A pure, crisp white with citrus, spice and a kick of acidity will balance the salt and complement the fresh ginger here. Try a white blend from Alsace that includes Riesling and Gewürztraminer grapes.
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