Fish in the Streams or was that Steamed?
Garlic Steam Big White Pomfret.
Photo by Doris Lim

When it comes to fish, Cantonese prefer their fish steamed which is by my goings a pretty unglamourous way of presenting this. A well-executed steamed fish is an art really. Keeping fire is important as well as timing to produce a delightfully tender and delicate flesh that brings out the natural sweetness of the fish.

The Cantonese Steam makes for a light yet fulfilling meal. Hand picking out the fish from the fish tanks in Chinese restaurants is really not my cup of tea. You’ll need honed killer instinct for picking out your prey... Making eye contact before the slaughter is mildly upsetting for me.

When served with a finishing of light premium soy sauce with a splash of rice wine and served whole, head, fins, tails and all, the heaping of cilantro and spring onions can’t take away the look of that gaping jaw with sharp teeth and eye balls popping out.

The best way to have this is by the sea side, sitting in the shade with warm sand just a leg over the low planter height wall. Cool balmy evening breeze.

The fish is perfectly steamed and presented on a stainless steel platter with food warmer candles. There is a small mound of cilantro masking the fish, the soy sauce and garlic oil glistening. You can make out the scent of that splash of rice wine.

The waiter brings over a bowl of blanched still hot rice vermicelli and in a separate bowl, blanched top and tailed bean sprouts.

You lift up and dunk in the cilantro and spring onions to soften in the soup. You scoop this up, with a little of the soup, rice vermicelli and bean sprouts. You use chopsticks to tear off tender sweet succulent chunks of the fish belly and eat it.

So light and sweet tasting of the sea and firm fish flesh. Nothing gets better than this, except that satay we had for appetisers.

Doris Lim is a popular freelance writer who blogs as Little Fish on travel and food stories here. Be sure to check out her other inspiring stories and follow her Instagram @SmartDoryID & Facebook to check out more places to eat delicious street foods or dine in the best restaurants!


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