For years and years, I’ve been passing by all those exotic fish in Asian supermarkets and didn’t even bother to check the price. They looked way beautiful (or ugly) to be served for dinner.
Recently, my notorious (the one who inspires me for new culinary discoveries every time he visits) friend came to Austin, and I took him to see our new H Mart. We spent most of the time exploring seafood and meat departments. I showed him similar to carp fish. He showed me pompano. Monkfish also looked challenging. As a result, there was enough fish to play with for a week. I was eating pompano steaks my friend fried for dinner and thinking — unbelievable! Why oh why haven’t I tried this fish years ago?
I asked him how he discovered pompano. Apparently, his 70+ old parents were looking for an inexpensive fish to cook. This one was ~$3/lb, without small bones, good tasting, and always available.
About This Recipe and Steamed Fish
Pompano is one of many available at Asian grocery stores delicious fish good for steaming (and for other cooking methods!). If you follow a healthy diet and have a limited budget, it is worse discovering. Pompano, though, is unbelievably easy to prep, cook, and eat — seriously! you can eat it with a spoon!
I can hear you saying you don’t have a steamer or your steamer is no large enough to fit a whole fish. No problem! All you need is a large diameter skillet filled with water 1″ deep and some aluminum foil. Make a ring of crumpled aluminum foil to keep the serving dish with a fish afloat and cover all of it with a piece of foil to trap the steam. Easy. I can hear you saying you don’t care for Thai food. No problem! Use your favorite sauce — salsa, chimichurri, pesto, etc. — and enjoy!
Prepare a dish large enough to fit the whole fish. Prepare a pot large enough to fit that dish. Make a ring of crumpled aluminum foil to keep the dish afloat and fill the pot with 1-1 1/2" deep water. Start boiling the water.
Scale and gut the fish. Score it on both sides. Cut lemongrass into 2" long pieces, bruise them. Wash herbs. Stuff kaffir lime, basil leaves, and lemongrass into the cavity of the fish. Place the fish on the prepared plate over boiling water, cover with the lid or a large piece of foil and steam for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, follow instructions on the packaging to make Jasmine rice. One cup of dry Jasmine rice will make 3 portions of rice.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Bring chicken stock to boiling. You can do it in a saute pan over high heat or in a large cup in a microwave. Peel and finelly chop garlic. Wash and finely chop Thai chilies. Sqeeze juice of 6-7 key limes. Wash herbs and finely chop herbs. First, combine boiling-hot stock, garlic, and chilies. When garlic is lightely cooked, add sugar and fish sauce to stock that is still hot. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add cold key lime juice to bring the temperature down and then add herbs.