Steamed bream with soy and ginger

After a weekend in the North of Scotland which featured butteries and porridge for breakfast, chips and beans up a mountain for lunch and an awesome roast beef dinner (always tastes better when made by your Mum!) I came home a little bit meated-out and craving some fish seasoned with some spice and fragrant ginger.  I also needed to work on reducing my freezer stockpile.  Being a lady of leisure as I am (for now…) I don’t have to rely on the freezer for last-minute dinners, so I started the emptying with a frozen bream.
I stocked up with fish from my local fishmonger in January and have a few fishies left.  The salmon steaks and John Dory are in pairs, whereas this little fella was alone, so I figured would be either a big dinner or give me leftovers for lunch (it did the latter).
As an aside, a definite boon to being at home in the daytime is knowing I can have a great lunch every day.  I’ll start experimenting a bit more and have no excuse not to be documenting the results – good and not so good –  here.
But back to Mr Bream.
I flavoured him with:
Sesame oil
Skinny slivers of ginger from a piece about the size of my top joint of my pinky finger
Two bashed cloves of garlic, skin left on
A bay leaf
A bird’s eye chilli
Salt and pepper
Rice wine vinegar
Soy sauce
Lemon juice from one lemon (minus a squeeze over my lunchtime potted mackerel on toast)
The foil was lightly oiled and half on a backing tray, the other half hanging over the edge, ready to form a parcel.  I used sesame oil to stop the fish sticking, and chose sesame to complement the other flavours, but you could use any fat at all.  The fish was already cleaned, so I rinsed it, and plonked it onto the foil. 

I shoved the chilli, garlic, bay leaf and about half the ginger inside the fish.  I scattered the rest of the ginger near the fish.  I then poured on what I think was about two tablespoons of soy, one of rice vinegar, the lemon juice and a splash of water.  I sprinkled the fish with sea salt and a good grinding of pepper.

To make the parcel, just pull over the overhanging leaf and neatly scrunch the three edges to make a parcel.  I left it like this for about an hour cos at this point I realised I wasn’t quite hungry yet, so it had a little marinade, but I that’s far form essential.

When I was a bit hungrier, I put the oven on to 190c and baked the fish for 25 minutes.  About 10 minutes before it was ready I cooked some plain jasmine rice, and stir-fried two spring onions, a head of pak choi and a handful of spinach in a tiny amount of sunflower oil and a little salt and pepper.

The smell when I opened the parcel was gorgeous, and the top fillet lifted off really easily.  If you’re unsure about cooking fish, you can check by prising some flesh away from the spine – if it comes away easily, it’s ready.  But to honest, this is a very forgiving way of cooking fish, unless you completely forget about it, you won’t overcook it, and because it steams inside the parcel, it’s very hard to dry it out.

After serving my fillet with rice, the greens and half the juices from the foil parcel, I pulled the spine and head off, and clingfilmed the leftover fillet for lunch today.

Dinner looked a lot prettier than second-time-round lunch but both tasted lovely: light, salty and warming, with a little touch of heat from the chilli, but not so much as to overpower the bream.  Bream’s got a lovely large flake to it and is clearly a fish that’s happy to be frozen without losing too much texture.

Next time I have bream, I think I’ll try frying the fillets to get the skin crispy as there was a lovely layer of fat just underneath the skin which I think would crisp up beautifully. I love this Asian-ish combination of flavours with almost all fish and should probably widen my repertoire a bit and delve into some cookbooks for some new ideas….but for a quick Tuesday dinner, it was great.

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