Sunday, 30 December 2012

Steamed Pomfret (Bawal Kukus)

Another blast from the past, this dish takes me back to childhood. Even though it was it was served on a rare few occasions, it is one of my more memorable favourites and is quite easy to make. You will need a big enough steamer to fit your fish- it can be bamboo or stainless steel or even just a large wok with a lid and a rack to hold up the plate of fish that is being steamed.

Bawal (in Malay), or pomfret is a warm sea fish which may prove difficult to obtain fresh in temperate climates. Its flesh is very soft and white, with a few chunky bones (easier to pick them out), making it ideal for many types of recipes. You can use frozen pomfret bought in oriental supermarkets or substitute it with other fishes with similarly soft flesh.

1 medium or large pomfret, gutted and cleaned (you could leave the head on if preferred)
Slices of ginger

Some cooking oil
Sesame oil
Chopped spring onions, optional

Soy sauce
Green chillies, chopped
Garlic, minced

Arrange slices of ginger on the fish after it has been cleaned. Place the fish on its serving dish and put it in the steamer. Add about 3 cups of water to the steamer, close the lid and set the heat on low/medium. Let the fish cook in the steam for about 30 minutes or so (depending on the size of the fish and how much heat is being applied to the steamer). Avoid opening the lid too many times-it will take extra cooking time to replace the escaped steam to cook the fish.

When it is done (use a knife to prod the flesh- if it is white throughout, the fish is cooked), remove the fish from the steamer. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Add a few dashes of sesame oil to it. Wait until the oil is very hot before drizzling the oil over the fish- you should hear it sizzle the fish skin. Garnish the fish with spring onions.

Serve this steamed pomfret with some white rice, a small sauce dish of soy, chillies and garlic and a vegetable side dish if desired.

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