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Cantonese-style steamed fish (family recipe)

This is a Ken Hom recipe that’s quick, easy and very tasty. If you have a bamboo steamer it’s even easier, but it’s not that difficult to improvise a steamer using a metal rack over a wok or deep pan.

I like to sit my bamboo steamer on top of a saucepan with the bottom rim of the steamer resting over the top of the saucepan. Whichever steaming method you use, make sure the steamer bottom is above the boiling water. Also check the water while the fish is cooking to make sure it doesn’t boil dry.

I also prefer to use baking paper inside my steamer rather than sitting the fish on a plate, but you do need to make sure you don’t press the baking paper too firmly into the bottom of the steamer (the steam from the boiling water needs some space to come up and do its job).

Tear off a piece of baking paper just slightly bigger than your steamer…

fold it in half & in half again, then bring the right bottom corner up to the top left corner…

and finally fold the right side over again to form a slimmer triangular shape.

Place the folded point in the centre of the steamer to measure where you can tear off any excess paper.

Unfold and lightly press into the steamer.

In the original recipe, Ken Hom salts the fish fillets beforehand to firm up the flesh. Of the many times I’ve made this, I think I’ve only done this once (I either forget about it until there’s no time before dinner to do it, or I just can’t be bothered doing the extra step – yes, call me lazy!). The idea is if you rub the fillets all over with salt, leaving for 30 mins, the salt draws out the excess moisture leaving you with firmer flesh. You then need to rinse off the salt and pat dry with kitchen towel. You can also use this recipe with cleaned whole fish (increase the steaming time to 12-15 mins in total).
If you’re making this to also serve to a baby, leave the seasoning off an end of the fish and don’t sprinkle the ginger over this part. After the fish is cooked, mash the baby’s piece or puree to the desired consistency, double-checking for any bones. Add a tiny drizzle of olive oil before serving if you wish (adding a drop or two of olive oil to cooked baby food is very common in Italy, and is seen as a healthy way to add a little bit of needed fat to a baby’s diet). I’ll leave it to your good judgment if you’re serving the fish to a toddler.

Serve the steamed fish with plain rice or a simple fried rice.

CANTONESE-STYLE STEAMED FISH

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 5-10 mins
Serves 2 adults and 1 toddler or baby

2 large fillets of firm white fish (cod, sole, haddock, etc)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3cm piece of ginger, finely shredded or finely diced
1 spring onion, finely shredded
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
coriander sprigs to serve

Pat the fillets dry with kitchen towel. Season with salt and pepper.

Set up a bamboo steamer, or put a rack into a wok or deep pan, and fill withΒ  about 5cm of water. Bring to the boil.

Place fish on a heatproof plate and scatter the shredded ginger evenly over. Place in the steamer, cover tightly and gently steam until just cooked through (flat fish fillets: 5 mins; thicker fillets 7-10 mins). Keep covered until ready to serve.

Just before serving, heat the groundnut and sesame oils together in a small saucepan over a med-low heat until it just starts to smoke.

To serve the fish, sprinkle over the spring onions and soy sauces, then pour over the hot oil. Garnish with coriander sprigs.

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Creme fraiche fish (adult recipe)

I’ve realised living in the UK (just gone eight years now… wow how time flies) I crave comfort food. A lot. Food has always been something I turn to when I’m sad, depressed or even bored especially during the colder months, and the regular grey skies and drizzly days here really take their mental toll on hubby and me. Since moving to the UK from Italy we’ve both gotten fatter. Not good!

So I’ve been on the search for low-calorie but tasty dinners. And they also need to be fairly quick and easy. This fish recipe has now become a favourite and tastes great (I don’t feel deprived at all!). The ‘secret’ is replacing the creme fraiche in the original recipe by Barefoot Contessa with low-fat creme fraiche. I don’t think anyone could taste the difference.

Smothering the fish with the mustardy creme fraiche keeps the fish lovely and moist, and there’s less chance of it overcooking. It goes great with the grated courgette/zucchini from this recipe (and it’s also low in calories). A perfect midweek meal that’s quick to make and tasty.

CREME FRAICHE FISH

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Makes 2 adult servings

2 white fish fillets (eg. haddock, cod or plaice)
4 tbsp low-fat creme fraiche
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp capers, drained
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray or an ovenproof baking dish with baking paper.

Sprinkle the baking paper with salt and pepper to season the underside of the fish. Place the fish fillet on the paper (skin side down if it still has skin). Season the top with salt and pepper.

Put the creme fraiche in a small bowl and mix in the two mustards and the capers.

Spoon the mustardy creme fraiche evenly over the fish, making sure to completely cover it.

Bake for 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes. If you’re not sure if it’s cooked through, put a knife into a thick part and see if the flesh flakes.

Serve with a green salad or stir fried grated courgette/zucchini.

Variations:

  • the original recipe also has finely diced shallots in the sauce
  • add some fresh herbs (chives, parsley, etc) either to the sauce or sprinkle over at the end
Do you have any low-fat yummy recipes to share?

Cod in prosciutto with courgettes (adult recipe)

As promised in my previous post, the recipe for a great zucchini/courgette side dish. It goes fantastically with any fish and can turn a rather boring piece of poached or fried fish into something more special.

I came across this way of cooking zucchini through a Jill Dupleix recipe I’m fairly sure was in The Times when she was a food writer for them. Her idea of wrapping cod (or any white fish) in prosciutto is very yummy and a great way to avoid overcooking the fish. She has a cod in prosciutto recipe on her website but she serves it with cabbage (I’m not convinced I’d like it as much as the zucchini!).

Jill Dupleix suggests the variation of substituting the prosciutto for streaky bacon which I’m sure would work very well. When I made this a few days ago I was sure we had prosciutto in the fridge (I live with an Italian after all!), but when I came to make it I discovered it was pancetta. I used the pancetta without saying anything to hubby but after his first mouthful his critique was ‘Pancetta’s too sweet for this recipe’. And he’s probably right!

If I’m making this for other people I cut the fish into smaller pieces, as the recipe suggests, to look prettier, otherwise I just wrap the whole fillet. To wrap the fish, lay your slices of prosciutto horizontally on a cutting board overlapping a little. Place the fish vertically in the middle making sure very little if any of the fillet extends beyond the prosciutto at the top and bottom. Bring the prosciutto over on one side and then the other, folding in any excess.

The only thing I’ve changed from the original recipe is to omit seasoning the fish well before wrapping in the prosciutto. Sometimes I use some black pepper, but never any salt as the prosciutto is salty enough. The weight of the fish is also very generous in the original recipe; I usually use 150g more or less for each person.

I tend to always use caraway seeds in the zucchini rather than fennel. Caraway has a subtler flavour and hubby isn’t a great fan of fennel seeds. Why not try both and see which you prefer?

COD IN PROSCIUTTO WITH COURGETTES

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Serves 2 adults

2 cod fillets, 150-180g each
4-6 slices prosciutto
1 tbsp olive oil
2 courgettes, washed
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp fennel or caraway seeds
salt and pepper
a few sprigs of parsley to serve

Trim cod into neat squares or rectangles. Wrap them neatly in prosciutto. Warm two dinner plates in the oven.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan and cook fish presentation-side down first, until prosciutto is crisp (about 3-4 mins). Turn and cook until other side is crisp and fish just cooked through (another 3-4 mins).

While the fish is cooking, coursely grate the unpeeled courgettes. Heat butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a second non-stick frying pan over a med-high heat and toss courgette very quickly in the hot pan, adding lemon juice, fennel or caraway seeds, salt and pepper.

Arrange courgettes on the two warmed plates, top with the cod and some sprigs of parsley.

Variations:

  • Use any other white fish (haddock, plaice, etc.)
  • Use streaky bacon instead of prosciutto (you’ll need about 6-8 slices)

Other uses:

  • The courgette works well as a side with any fish