Steamed Fish with Fresh Cilantro Sauce

In the classic rendition of this dish, hot oil is poured over the steamed fish to sear the seasonings. This version uses chicken broth, which creates a lighter, cleaner flavor that underscores the sweetness of the seafood. Cilantro has a pungent, musky flavor that is warming, and reinforces the stomach.


2 pounds firm-fleshed fillets (haddock, lake trout, sole, or flounder) skin removed

Ginger Marinade:
2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 ½ tablespoons minced, fresh ginger
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Cilantro Sauce:
6 tablespoons chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Rinse the fish fillets lightly under cold water and drain thoroughly in a colander. Place them in a bowl. Stir together the ingredients of the ginger marinade, pour it over the fillets, and toss lightly to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let the fillets marinate in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

2. Arrange the fillets, skin side down, on a heatproof plate and place in a steamer tray or on a rack over an empty tuna fish can. Pour enough water for steaming into a wok or pot and steam until the fish flakes when prodded with a knife, about 6 or 7 minutes for flounder or sole, 10 to 12 minutes for pickerel or lake trout. (Alternatively, you may grill the fish or sear it in a hot nonstick pan brushed lightly with oil. Cook for prescribed cooking time.)

3. While the fish is steaming, in a saucepan, add all of the ingredients for the cilantro sauce and then heat until boiling. Stir and turn off the heat. Pour the heated sauce over the steamed fillets and serve immediately with steamed rice and a vegetable.
Recipe courtesy of Nina Simonds, from A Spoonful of Ginger; Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.

Nutritional Analysis: 
Per Serving: Calories: 155; Fat: 2 grams; Sodium: 646 milligrams; Carbohydrate: 2 grams; Protein: 29 grams
6 Servings

Nina Simonds


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