Steamed Red Emperor with Ham

(Photo by avlxyz/Flickr)
(Photo by avlxyz/Flickr)

Serves 4-6.


500 g/1 lb skinless fillets red emperor
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch white pepper
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
4 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
small leaves of Chinese cabbage
(choy sum or bok choy)
125 g/4 oz cooked ham, sliced thinly
190 ml/6 fl oz/3/4 cup chicken stock


Wash fish and cut into thin slices. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of the sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of the cornflour and mix well. Chill for 30 minutes.

Cover mushrooms with very hot water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, then cut off stems and slice caps. Trim small leaves of Chinese cabbage and take as many curved tips as there are pieces of fish. Arrange in a single layer on a heatproof serving dish lightly brushed with sesame oil, each leaf topped with a slice of fish, a slice of ham cut a little smaller than the fish, and a slice of mushroom.

Steam over boiling water for 8 minutes or until fish has become opaque. While fish steams, bring chicken stock to the boil and stir in remaining 2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with a tablespoon of cold water. When sauce boils and thickens remove from heat and stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Pour over fish and serve immediately.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)