Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scalllions

My father will be visiting again for one month, so I thought I’d better brush up on the guidelines for cooking for gout-sufferers. His doctor in Hawaii recommended fish over any land-based protein, and fresh ginger is one of the moderately alkaline foods that is supportive of his condition so this is one recipe I’ve earmarked to make for him during his stay. Probably more than once. We’ll include this in the Gout Diet Challenge (GDC) round-up.


This is another testament to the wisdom “Simple is best” — Ginger Scallion Fish. It was a standard order at our favorite neighborhood restaurant in Ewa Beach, and it was only when it started to dawn on me that we would be leaving the island that an urgency rose to deconstruct the recipe. I believe flounder was the fish used at the restaurant, but at home we like it best with tilapia. Both fish are considered Good choices under the Seafood Watch guides, though you do need to look for country of origin and make sure the tilapia is from a safe source, too. This is tilapia sold flash frozen from Taiwan.

This is my own method that duplicates the flavor of our restaurant favorite — it provides the flavor of the key seasonings in layers and just heats the soy sauce enough to bring out its flavor without “cooking” it, which would change the final flavor.

I know it seems out of character for me to specify “no substitutes” for more than one ingredient in a recipe since this site is predicated on the belief that cooking should be fun and dictated in part by what you have available. But please try this recipe as is before playing with the ingredients because with this dish, the end result really is more than the sum of its parts.

For 2 persons as part of a multi-course meal

1 knob or finger of ginger
4-5 stalks of scallions
12-14 oz. (340-400g) flat fish filets, such as tilapia, flounder, or sole
finely ground white pepper (do not substitute black pepper)
sea salt
2 TBL. peanut oil (no substitutes)
2 tsp. soy sauce, preferably soy sauce labelled specifically for seafood (Chinese sources)

Peel ginger and halve. Julienne half of the knob into fine slivers, and set aside. With the other half, slice in larger pieces (these are for steaming)

Wash and trim scallions. Cut each stalk into 2-inch pieces, then thinly slice lengthwise into fine slivers. Slice remaining stalks into 2-inch pieces, then halve again once lengthwise(these are for steaming).

Prepare a large pot or wok for steaming, adding about 1-1/2 inches of water, and placing a metal rack or bamboo steamer above the water line. Bring water to a boil over high heat while you prepare fish.

Rinse fish filet and pat dry. Lay filet on a non-metallic plate or a piece of waxed paper on the steamer. Sprinkle with sea salt, then scatter larger pieces of ginger and scallion over filet. Carefully place in steamer, and cover, turning heat down to medium high. Steam undisturbed for at least 7 minutes, then check fish for doneness — it should flake at the thickest part. If not done, add some hot water to the pot, and steam for another 2-3 minutes and check again.

Meanwhile heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add peanut oil, and heat until just beginning to smoke.

Remove ginger and scallion pieces, and place fish on a serving plate. Sprinkle with finely ground white pepper, and fresh julienned ginger and scallions.

Drizzle soy sauce over fish, then immediately top with sizzling peanut oil.

Serve as part of a multi-course meal with rice. Suggestions for accompanying dishes: Stuffed Shiitake Medaillons,Watercress Dumplings, Flash-cooked Watercress or Mustard Cabbage.