Thought to bring good luck and abundance, serving a whole steamed fish is a Chinese New Year tradition. The head and tail are always attached to ensure a good beginning and end to the upcoming year, with the head pointing in the direction of the guest of honor. Chrysanthemum, a sweet and crunchy Asian green, adds texture and grassy notes in the form of a salad, complementing the bright flavors of the fish.
While chrysanthemum is typically available in any Asian market, feel free to substitute collard greens as the meaty leaves that make up the salad. As for the fish, red snapper often clocks in at around one and a half pounds. But if you happen to get a larger fish, adjust the timing accordingly, making sure to cook it to an internal temperature of 145°.
To learn more, read "Luck Be a Lady."
Whole Steamed Snapper with Chrysanthemum and Tofu Salad
Recipe adapted from "Lucky Rice," by Danielle Chang (Clarkson Potter)
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
For the Chrysanthemum Salad:
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup sesame oil
1 bunch (6 cups) chrysanthemum leaves or collard greens, roughly chopped (thick stems removed)
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 scallions, thinly sliced
14 ounces firm tofu, crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
For the Steamed Snapper:
One 1½-pound whole red snapper, cleaned and scaled
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
One 2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
1. Make the salad: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. In a large bowl, toss the chrysanthemum and cilantro leaves, scallions and tofu with the dressing, and season with salt and white pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.
2. Make the steamed snapper: Rinse the fish and pat it dry with paper towels. Score the fish on both sides with a series of slits 2 inches apart. Place the fish on a heatproof plate and season liberally with salt. Place the plate in a steamer basket (bamboo is optimal, but any steamer basket will do) set over a pan of 2 inches of boiling water. Cover the bamboo steamer or pot, and cook until cooked through and the flesh flakes easily when pierced with the tip of a knife, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and rice wine. A few minutes before the fish is finished cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a small pan over medium heat. You want it hot, but not smoking.
4. As soon as the fish is cooked, carefully remove the plate, draining any liquid that has accumulated. Sprinkle the scallions and ginger over the fish and immediately pour the hot oil over top to wilt the scallions and ginger. Drizzle with the soy sauce mixture and garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with the chrysanthemum salad on the side.
*This article was originally published on 02/04/2016 by Tasting Table editors. The restaurant, chef and/or recipe are in no way affiliated with or endorsing the featured sponsor.