She shimmered like a ruby among sapphires beneath the halo of a red-rimmed incandescent lamp. In her mirror eyes, my reflection stared back at me, wide-eyed at this radiant creature with its gills taut, scales glistening, vibrant in all her hues. Has there ever been a more beautiful fish? One so positively bursting with freshness, with such sweet ivory flesh, with so much precious juice to drip out onto a bed of soft rice noodles?
Let’s find out.
I made the mistake (so you don’t have to!) of not soaking the vermicelli beforehand, thinking that the steam would be sufficient.
Still, the drippings here were just as satisfying as the flower crab’s.
INGREDIENTS: 1 fresh, live fish. Ask the fishmonger to scale it and remove the guts. 1 package of rice vermicelli, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes. 3 sprigs Cilantro 2 springs spring onion 1 lunk of ginger, finely sliced 2 tbsp peanut oil The Sauce: 1/2 cup soy sauce 1 tbsp sesame oil 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine 1 pinch ground white pepper 1 pinch sugar
Dry the fish and score with a sharp knife to increase flavor penetration.
Stuff the abdomen with a few slices of ginger and spring onion.
Meanwhile, soak rice vermicelli in hot water for 10 minutes to soften.
When softened, place 1 bed of vermicelli on a clean plate,
Then place the fish on top of the vermicelli.
Top fish with sliced ginger.
For extra noodles, place another bed of vermicelli on top of the fish, to make a “vermicelli-fish sandwich.”
Steam over boiling water for 7 minutes, then pour most of the sauce over the fish. Reserve about 2 tbsp for finishing.
Cover and steam for other 4-7 minutes, until a knife goes through the flesh and touches the spine with no resistance.
Be careful not to overcook.
*At this point, many recipes advise to drain the drippings b/c it “tastes fishy,” but why would you throw away the best part??
Carefully remove plate from the steamer, and top the fish with cilantro and spring onion. Pour the rest of the sauce on top, then pour sizzling hot peanut oil on top to fry the toppings.