Ling cod Cantonese style

First, I don’t have a photo of the dish I’m going to talk about. Sorry. We forgot to take one before eating. It’s rare, but it happens.

Second, I’m not going to post the recipe here but anyone interested should be able to figure out how to make the dish without any details.

Basically, tonight, I tried a new fish recipe (something I’ve been conscientiously trying to do), which was a Cantonese-style steamed ling cod dish using one of the cookbooks I got from Taiwan.

The chef/author is a foodie who used to work in mass media and ended up switching to cookbook writing because of the popularity of his recipes and simple style of cooking. We’ve tried some of his other recipes in the past but they weren’t all hits. His “Three Cup Chicken,” for instance, tasted a little diluted. Tonight’s fish dish, though, turned out to be a winner. I guess maybe we should stick to his “light” dishes from now on.

Anyway, so back to the steamed ling cod.

I actually bought the fish 3 days ago. I was at Ranch 99 for something else (squid for our famous “grilled squid” for a potluck BBQ on Saturday) and the ling cod caught my eye. Unlike the other lifeless fishes on beds of ice the ling cod was still “twitching” even though its head had already been chopped off. Having never seen this in a Chinese supermarket before, I stood there fixated.

Yup, there it was, the fish torso was definitely pulsating. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed it. Nope, just me, the fish aisle newbie. So I asked the fish monger if it was still alive. “Yeah it’s still alive, it’s still moving, isn’t it?” he said. Even though I had no idea what kind of fish it was, how to prepare it, or when we were actually going to cook and eat it, I asked for a slice of the moving fish, as if that’s the respectful thing to do.

Then when I got home, I looked up ling cod to see what we could do with it and found that the nearby ABC Seafood restaurant serves it steamed. I’ve been wanting to try the steamed fish recipe in the book for a while so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

After marinating the fish in some sake overnight, I sprinkled some salt, covered it with ginger slices, and steamed the dish on on high heat for about 12 – 15 minutes. After it’s been cooked, the ginger slices were replaced with fresh green onion, ginger, and bell pepper (the recipe calls for red hot pepper but we didn’t have any) and covered with a soy sauce, salt, and sugar sauce. The last step was to pour hot oil over the whole thing, lightly searing the herbs (is that what people call things like ginger/green onion/hot pepper? The Japanese call this kind of stuff “yakumi” but I don’t know what the English translation would be).

That’s it. It’s that simple. (Again, I wish I have a photo to show you.)

The taste is fresh. The fish is not fishy at all even though it had been sitting the fridge over the weekend. The sauce is a little salty on its own but perfectly seasons the white meat. The texture and taste of the fish reminded us of sea bass, although people seem to compare ling cod more often to halibut.

In any case, at $6.99 a pound, we’re happy to discover a new way to enjoy fresh seafood.

So I guess this makes one more dish we’re going to stop ordering at restaurants … I don’t know if this is good or bad. Eventually, we might not be able to eat out anymore. Hmmm…


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