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For steaming, fish is set on a rack over (not touching) boiling water in a covered pan. The steam circulates around the fish and evenly cooks it with moist heat. Because the vapors attain high temperatures and come in direct contact with the fish, it is a quick cooking method. No added fat is needed and moisture from the steam helps to maintain the succulence of the fish. You can infuse some delicate flavors into the fish by adding aromatic ingredients to the water such as ginger slices, crushed garlic, fresh herbs or onions.
Asian-style bamboo steamers are inexpensive and ideal for steaming fish. You don't need a wok, although the slanted sides of a wok help the steamer to sit firmly and securely. If you don't have a wok, choose a pan over which the steamer fits securely. You can also steam fish using an expandable steamer basket or even a wire cake rack that fits inside your pan base. Be sure the rack will hold the fish at least an inch above the water level so that the boiling water does not come in direct contact with the fish.
Steaming is equally effective for thick and thin pieces of fish, and even whole fish. Because the fish is arranged on a heatproof plate before steaming, there is no need to turn or otherwise move the fish and therefore there is little risk of potentially fragile pieces breaking apart in cooking. It is also very easy to steam accompanying vegetables directly on top of or alongside of the fish. Virtually any fish can be steamed, but meaty fish such as tuna and swordfish are less suited to this method. Count on about 10 minutes of cooking time per inch thickness of the fish, but because steam heat is so hot, it may be a little less.
1. Choose a broad, shallow pan with a steaming rack that fits snugly.
Be sure you also have a lid that will fit snugly over the steaming pan.
2. Arrange the fish fillets on a heatproof plate that easily fits into the steamer. Fold thin tail ends under so fillets are of even thickness.
3. Sprinkle the fish with seasonings and aromatic vegetables.
4. Bring the water to a boil in the steamer, set the plate of fish on the steamer rack, put the rack over the boiling water and cover tightly with the lid.
5. Steam the fish until it is opaque through to the center of the thickest part. Transfer the fish and vegetables to individual plates and serve.
Simply Seafood Spring 1994
Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 01-13-95