The only steamed fish I’m familiar with are steamed sea-bass, very popular in Cantonese cuisine; and ginger steamed fish. Both are Asian dishes, where steamed fish, usually whole (with the head intact) is a very common method of preparing seafood. Then I started thinking, why not a steamed fish dish replete with spices and herbs common to Puerto Rican cooking? Since my purview is Boricua cooking as established on the U.S. mainland, especially during the diaspora in New York, I call it fish fillets – Nuyorican Style.
Let me recap: Nuyorican is a term given to Puerto Ricans born or raised in New York City. It was a derogatory term coined by Puerto Ricans on the island who regarded Nuyoricans with some antipathy. Like the homosexuals and Lesbians on the mainland who took the term gay and made it a sign of pride, we did the same with Nuyorican. So, here it is, Steamed Fish Fillets – Nuyorican Style. With a side of steamed veggies, such as sweet peas and zucchini (as we did with this recipe) it is a winner.
Now, this dish calls for a steamer. You can use a regular steamer, a wok with a steamer attachment, or a bamboo steamer. If you don’t have one, you can jerryrig one: In a large pot or pan, place an 18.5 ounce can in the center. Fill the pot or pan so that the can is halfway standing in water. Place a plate with fish fillets on top, bring water to a boil, cover and steam as you would normally. That’s it. What is that old saying: Necessity is the mother of invention? Also, any white firm-fleshed fish fillet can work for this one, be it haddock, cod, perch, turbot, sea bass, pollock, halibut, ext.
STEAMED FISH FILLETS – NUYORICAN STYLE
2 pound fish fillets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup chopped fresh scallions
1. Rinse fish fillets under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice until it has emulsified. This is the lemon dressing.
3. Season the fillets with the oregano, dill and garlic powder. Place on a plate and drizzle with the lemon dressing. Sprinkle with the scallions, place on steamer half filled with water, bring to a boil, cover and steam until fish is tender, about 5 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.