A tasty and aromatic seafood dish that requires five minutes of preparation and 20 minutes steaming. I call it Vietnamese-style steamed fish steaks because the seasoning is the classic nuoc mam pha with a little oyster sauce stirred in.
What is nuoc mam pha? It’s the fish sauce-lime juice blend that you dip Vietnamese fried vegetable springs rolls in. Salty, sweet, tangy and hot (yes, chilies galore!), nuoc mam pha goes well with seafood beautifully. If you have time, make the sauce ahead of time to allow the flavors to bloom. That’ll make your fish so much tastier.
What fish is good for this recipe? I used maya-maya (snapper) steaks but any firm and fleshy fish should be good. If using fish steaks, ideally, they should be about an inch thick. If you’d rather use a whole fish, score both sides (see how) to make sure that the sauce reaches the innermost part of the fish flesh.
- 1 finger chili
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 shallot (or ½ onion)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime (or lemon) juice
- 1 tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 4 fish steaks, about 500 grams total weight (read the difference between fish fillet and steak)
- snipped scallions, to garnish
- Finely slice the finger chili.
- Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves and shallot.
- Place the sliced chili, garlic, shallot and sugar in a small jar with a screw-type cap. Pour in the lime (or lemon) juice, fish sauce and oyster sauce. Screw on the jar cap and shake the jar until the sugar is dissolved.
- Start boiling water in your steamer.
- Pat the fish steaks dry with paper towels. Arrange in a shallow heat-proof bowl. Pour the sauce over and around the fish steaks.
- Place the bowl in the steamer basket. Steam the fish steaks over boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on their size).
- Off the heat, sprinkle the Vietnamese-style steamed fish steaks with snipped scallions before serving.