Plate of Steamed Fish
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Steamed Fish with Lime & Chili
  -   [Plaa Naung Manao]
2 main  
1 hr  
An entirely delectable (and easy) way to cook light or moderately flavored fish. Steaming fish in an open dish was probably adopted from the Chinese, but the sauce is entirely Thai. The dish the fish is steamed in can also be the serving dish. See the Photo Gallery for details, and also Comments.


Fish, whole (1)  
-- Sauce
Thai Chilis (2)
Cilantro root (3)  
Fish Sauce (4)
Lime Juice
Stock (5)
-- Garnish
Cilantro Leaves  
Lime Slices (6)
Prep   -   (35 min - (exclusive of cleaning the fish))
  1. Scale and clean FISH as required. Make diagonal cuts to the bone on both sides, spaced about 1 inch apart.
  2. Slice CHILIS thin (or dice small if using larger chilis such as Serranos). Peel GARLIC and cut in half lengthwise. Slice CILANTRO ROOT thin. Mix all in a large Mortar and pound just until the Garlic Cloves are broken up fairly small.
  3. Mix together all Sauce items.
Run   -   (20 min)
  1. Set up your Steamer rig (Note-7) with water and the whatever grid you are using. Cover with a domed lid and bring it up to a full boil (Important).
  2. Place fish on a dish with a fairly high rim. Place it on the steamer grid and pour Sauce mix evenly over the fish. Cover with the domed lid and set it to a medium boil. The fish should be ready in about 12 minutes, depending on thickness. At the center of the thickest meat it should be at least 125°F/52°C and there is no need to go over 140°F/60°C.
  3. Serve hot in the steaming dish with the sauce that has been produced there, or serve on a serving dish, or on individual dishes with sauce ladled over.
  1. Fish:   Weight given is for a Pompano, before cleaning and with head on. Use your own best judgement for other fish, and whether they are steamed with head on or off. For a cleaned fish with head off, about 1 pound. Basically, they have to fit in the steamer. Select a fish with little to moderate skin shrinkage for most attractive results. Fillets are also steamed by this method. My favorite is Golden / Florida Pompano, which has no skin shrink at all and a very small head, so it can be used head on or off. I've also cooked many others fish this way. The photo example is a Pink Ear Emperor weighing 1 pound after cleaning and removing head.
  2. Thai Chilis:   Green or Red. The pattern recipe called for 8 Thai chilis. I made it with 7, and it was very spicy, even by Southern California standards. I have reduced it to 4 for a general audience, but use your own best judgement, either more or less. If you don't have Thai chilis, fresh de Arbols are a good substitute, or one Serrano chili diced small (they grow Serranos in Thailand now). For details see our Chili page.
  3. Cilantro Root:   If you can't get this, and you probably can't, use Cilantro stems - no leaves.
  4. Fish Sauce:   This clear amber liquid is absolutely essential to the cuisines if Thailand and Vietnam. If you are unfamiliar with it see our Fish Sauce - Introduction page.
  5. Stock:   The pattern recipe calls for Pork Stock, but Chicken Stock will work fine too.
  6. Lime Slices:   The writer of the pattern recipe insists on Key Limes for both juice and slices. I doubt most people could tell the difference for the juice, but for the slices they are more elegant.
  7. Steamer:   A wok with a low steamer grid and a high domed cover is perfect for this (see Photos) but other types of steamer will work, so long as they fit the plate that the fish fits on..
  9. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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