March 26, 2006
IMBB24: Steam Power

30 minutes is not a lot of time. That's my conclusion after trying our own challenge for Is My Blog Burning? #24 - Make it in 30 Minutes.

I was able to finish my meal just in the time allotted. To be fair, I was slowed down a little by pausing to give The Redhead time to click pics of the cooking process, but I also didn't count the time it took to wash the vegetables and I bought some pre-cut broccoli florets that had been pre-washed. I didn't, however, use pre-minced garlic or ginger, so I think it all evens out.

My meal is a three courser:
1. Miso soup with green onion and tofu
2. Fish steamed with essence of lemongrass and ginger
  2a. A dipping sauce,
  2b. Tomatoes and broccoli
  2c. Side of sauteed dandelion greens and peapods
  2d. White rice.
3. 2 types of Mochi for dessert

It's all made possible with the help of bamboo steamers set in a wok over boiling water that allows us to cook not just the fish but a few vegetable side dishes as well.

The idea for this came from a visit by the Maid of Honor from our wedding - Nataline. Like me, she'd been much more of an eater than a cook for most of her life until a short time ago when she started dabbling, and then took a cooking class.

Nataline visited a week or two ago, and brought with her an Asian cookbook and an idea to make some steamed fish, which we did, and which was delicious. The recipe here is inspired by that meal, plus a few whacked ideas of my own.

Bamboo steamers are wonderful. They cook the food with no unintentionally added fat, and infuse the layers above with fragrance from below. We're going to take advantage of that by putting lemongrass and ginger below our fish and having the fish absorb the perfume. It's subtle but distinct. If you prefer, you can crate a wrap or rub for the filets, but try this more subtle method of getting flavor into fish first.

How was it? The rice turned out well, the fish had the subtle fragrance we were looking for, the broccoli and tomatoes were tender and delicious, and the bitter dandelion greens set off the sweet peapods nicely. I made the miso soup a little too miso-y (aka salty), but that's easily correctable. If you like a more subtle soup back off the miso a bit.

Trader Joe's mochi? It'a a miracle they exist, so I won't nitpick, but they could back off the sugar in the coating a little. Still very tasty and recommended. I hope you'll make and enjoy this meal or something like it using Steam Power.

Thirty Minute Fish with Sides and Soup

For the Rice:
1 cup medium grain rice
2 cups water

For the Miso Soup:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons ginger
2 cloves garlic
1/2 block firm tofu
1 quart water
1/4 cup miso paste (more or less, according to taste
3 green onions, green parts only

For the Fish and Vegetables in the Steamer:
2 four-ounce filets whitefish (I used Red Snapper. Cod would work as well. Just don't use an oilier fish like tuna or salmon)
1 stalk lemongrass
piece of ginger about the size of two thumbs (start with one twice as large, you'll grate half of it for the ginger in the miso soup above)
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups broccoli florets

For the Dipping Sauce:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablesoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped scallion/green onion
1 tablespoon sriracha garlic/hot sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 cup cilantro, washed

For the Greens and Peapods:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups fresh peaspods (the flat snappy kind)
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 2 cups?)

For dessert:
2 packages Trader Joe's mochi, one mango, one green tea

Get your food out and accessible, set up your blender if its not always setup, get a wok, bamboo steamers for the wok (two high), a medium saucepot for the soup, a small saucepot for the rice, and a large skillet for the greens and peapods

Set the clock to 30 minutes. Go!

30:00 - combine rice and water in a pan, over high heat. Let boil (at about 26:00 mark, then reduce to simmer, cover, and watch for steam holes (about 10-12 minutes later)
29:00 - place medium saucepot for the soup on burner, add oil, turn heat on high.
28:00-26:00 - peel large piece of ginger. Grate half to get the ginger for the miso soup, chop rest into small chunks to expose surfaces for aromatic effect. Take three scallions, cut off ends. Chop white part into thin slices, then cut green parts into 1" lengths.
26:00 - cover your rice if it's boiled, reduce to simmer.
25:00 - smash your garlic cloves and chop quickly. Add it, the ginger, and the green portion of the scallions to the soup pot and stir to sautee.
24:00 - cut the bottom two inches off your lemongrass, cut the tops off, leaving about a four inch piece. Hack at the lemon grass to make many small cuts, then turn the knife around and whack it repeatedly to tenderize it.
23:00 - add one quart of water to sauteeing garlic, ginger, and green onions.
22:00 - cut your tofu into 1" cubes and add to the soup.
21:00 - put about two inches-three inches water in the bottom of your wok and put it over high heat. It shouldn't go any higher than where the steamers will sit.
20:00 - Take your soup off the stove and place the pot aside to cool just a bit.
19:00 - Stir the miso paste into the soup until it dissolves completely. You could serve it now, if you wished, or you can wait. If you wait and the soup cools, you may reheat it, but don't let it boil.
18:00 - put everything for the sauce into the blender and blend it. Taste and adjust until you like the sauce. It should be a little salty, hot, and sweet all at once.
14:00 - how's your rice? It could be done. Check it and either turn the heat off or let it go a few more minutes if it isn't finished.
13:00 - spread the lemongrass, chunks of ginger and broccoli florettes in what will be the bottom bamboo steamer tray
12:00 - salt and pepper your fish. Add the filets and the tomatoes to the top bamboo steamer. Put the steamers in the wok and cover.
11:00 - heat a tablespoon of oil in the big skillet
10:00 - add the peapods and dandelion greens to the skillet, and sautee. Add tablespoon of soy sauce after the intial stir. Sautee a few minutes until the greens are wilted and the pods are hot and a little tender, but still crisp.
6:00 - check the fish. It should be done or near done. If not, let it go another minute or two.
5:00 - plate the fish with rice, pour sauce into a ramekin for diners to spoon over their fish, spoon out cooked tomatoes and broccoli, and add the dandelions greens and peapods on the side. Discard ginger and lemongrass.

Stop the clock! We could put the mochi out now, too, but it would melt by the time you got to it. So call a time out and

Eat. When you're ready for dessert -

Start the clock again.

2:00 - cut mochi in quarters, plate and serve.

Buzzzzz! Sorry, no coffee or after dinner drinks. We're out of time! Oh, all right. I'll have a small one.

Tagged with: +

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at March 26, 2006 9:35 AM Print-friendly version

Great write-up! Did you have a kitchen assistant or did you manage all by your lonesome?

I had a partner helpfully calling out from the living room every five minutes "Is it almost done? What's taking so long???"

Posted by Meg on March 27, 2006 at 5:17 AM

My assistant and photographer did a very good job of being out of the way after some initial cries of "Visa!" (she was everywhere I wanted to be) just before I started.

She didn't do any of the cooking or cutting, however, as we wanted to be sure it really was do-able in thirty minutes. The timer went off just as I was heading to the table with the last dish.

Posted by barrett on March 27, 2006 at 9:08 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please be sure you read and agree with our ADVERTISING POLICY before posting.