Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Mackerel

Rock cod actually.  I suppose I shouldn't be making holy mackerel references on Good Friday (someone might slap me up side of the head with a crucifix), but oh well.

I made a trip through my local Asian market yesterday morning, looking for nothing in particular and coming away with an assortment of the kind of obscure stuff one can find in an Asian market...quails eggs, tempeh, an entire rock cod.  I've been in this place before and have always been intrigued by the stuff in their refrigerated case.  All manner of whole fishes, head-on shrimp, pigs ears, hearts and assorted other organ meats.  The Korean-style short ribs look awesome, but were in short supply yesterday.  I ended up settling on a whole fish as my project for the day.

Kinda big for the wok!
Having already made my purchase I realized I didn't know if it was the environmentally appropriate choice.  Monterey Bay Aquarium lists rockfish as either a "Good Alternative" or "Avoid" depending on the method of catch.  The store did not specify the method and since I could barely understand the counter guy when asked if I wanted the fish cleaned (I didn't, why let him have all the fun) I'm not sure he would have been much help.  I'm going to assume line caught and keep a clear conscience.

Anyway, once at home I pulled out my Asian cookbooks and started hunting for recipes for whole fishes.  I ended up online and found a Thai Steamed Fish for which I conveniently had all the ingredients; lemongrass, ginger, garlic, spring onions, soy, fish sauce, etc, etc and so forth.*

Prepped for the steamer

Sadly, the big guy was too big for my wok, way too big for my steamer basket, so it was off with his head (and tail) and into the stock pot which will probably end up in some Vietnamese style fish soup tonight.  Reminded me of that "Fish Heads" song on the old Dr. Demento radio program, but that's another story.

Once assembled, a little lemongrass sauce and assorted herbage on top, the thing went into my steamer atop the wok.  One little hiccup, as the fish started to cook it sort of began to flex and pushed the lid up off the wok, letting out my steam.  I laid a few wet kitchen towels around the rim of the wok lid to re-seal and capture the steam.  That seemed to do the trick. 

After about twenty minutes worth of steaming the result was...nothing short of magnificent.  Well, actually quite a bit short of magnificent, but damn tasty none the less.  And ultimately pretty simple, once I worked out the logistics of how I was going to get the thing steamed.

The photo does little justice
Presentation may have suffered somewhat due to the decapitation and docking.  That didn't stop us from devouring it.  Next time, perhaps a smaller fish.

* A small bit of trivia: that's a line from "A Puzzlement" in The King and I, in which Yul Brynner plays the king of Siam, which is to say Thailand, so etcetera is a perfectly acceptable Thai ingredient in my mind.


Blogger Denise said...

OMG. This fish was perhaps the most flavorful fish I have ever had! Do it again! Do it again!

April 7, 2012 at 10:45 AM  

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