Cooking a whole fish might look tricky, but it’s actually one of the easiest dinners you’ll ever make. It’s a perfect weekday meal – simple, healthy and refreshing – and it won’t break the bank or take all night to prepare. Here’s how to do it:
1. Start by picking out a whole fish at your grocery store or fish market. Fresh fish will have clear, full (not sunken) eyes and shiny, slick (not slimy) skin that looks like it just came out of the ocean. Any flaky white fish will do – branzino, red snapper, flounder – ask your fishmonger for a recommendation if you’re not sure. (You’ll also usually save a few bucks buying the fish whole rather than filleted!)
2. Fire up some water in your nested steamer on the stovetop.
3. While the steamer comes to a boil, rinse and dry your fish, then season inside and out with salt and pepper. Try topping and stuffing the fish’s cavity with minced ginger and garlic for Asian-style fish, or thinly sliced lemon and rosemary for a Mediterranean flair.
4. Lay the fish on a heat-safe plate that will fit in the steamer. Place the plate and fish in the steamer, cover, and let cook for about 8 minutes, or until the flesh is tender to the touch of a fork.
5. Remove the fish from the steamer and drain any excess liquid from the plate (which will have an undesirable fishy taste).
That’s it! Your fish is ready to serve. Try garnishing the fish with one of these options:
Top with scallions and cilantro
Drizzle with sauce (mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, and 1 tablespoon water)
Top with red onions and garlic sauteed in olive oil
Drizzle with sauce (mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon water)
Delicately steamed fish goes perfectly with a fresh, simple salad on the side – try arugula with walnuts, tomatoes and a light vinaigrette.