Foodie Friday: Steamed Fish

Steamed fish: whole fish in a soy sauce broth, garnished with ginger and scallions

steamed fish

Happy Chinese New Year! One of the best dishes served during this festive time is steamed whole fish. It’s a symbol of prosperity because the characters for “fish” and “surplus” sound very similar. The fish must be served whole, which signifies a lucky year, from start to end. I love this simple dish because it’s quick and tasty while using minimal ingredients.

Growing up, I heard that you should never flip over a fish to get to the meat on its underside. This superstition stems from fishermen, who believed that turning over the fish would lead to their boat capsizing. As a result, I’ve seen some very deft chopsticks debone a fish in almost artistic maneuvers.

My favorite part of the fish (at least as a child)? The eyeballs. Yep, those round spheres are delicacies. We used to squabble over them as kids to see who would get the first pick. I remember associating them with pearls, both in their shape and value.

What interesting food traditions or eating preferences do you have?

Comments

  1. This dish sounds tasty, easy and healthy too, which is always a plus. I love ginger! And everyone at home loves soy sauce. So it should be a winner. I really enjoy your Friday Food, especially because we all like Chinese food at my home. Also it’s interesting to discover a Chinese tradition from somewhone like you. The eyeballs of the fish make me smile because when I was a kid growing up in France my favorite dishes were a little gross (at least now that I live in the US). I loved blood sausage, pig feet, the stomach (I don’t know the word in Englsih) of the chickens…
    My mother was a great cook (still is) and we ate well, but I had a reputation for eating everything most people disliked.
    Somehow I outgrew these habits. I don’t know if I should be happy about it or if it means that I lost some of my wild curiosity. Thank you again.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says:

      Thanks for your encouragement, Evelyne! It was neat to hear about your unique childhood tastes.

      • Mimi says:

        I just discovered your blog and love it! I am looking forward to reading your new book – it’s on order from Amazon. I am Taiwanese (born there in 1963). My family (Hsin-Chu) date back to well before the KMT/Chiang Kai-shek took over. Sadly I had never heard of the 228 massacre! Clearly the hush-hush was effective! I am now better understanding why there has been such discontent in my family toward the “washin-dlang” (Taiwan citizens originally from Mainland China).

        BTW – the eyeballs were always my favorite as a child!

        • Jennifer J. Chow says:

          Glad to meet you, Mimi! I hope you enjoy my book. And thanks for the camaraderie with the fish eyes :)

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