To release the aroma and flavour of the olives, stir-fry them briefly with chopped garlic. While the usual approach to steamed fish is to discard the liquid at the bottom of the steaming dish, you may wish to skip this step if you find this liquid tasty. Yellow croakers are mild in flavour and usually do not have strong fishy odours. The salted black olives also help stave off any fishy smell.
- 2 yellow croakers (780 g)
- 1 tbsp white rice vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 12 salted black olives (180 g)
- 80 ml olive oil or cooking oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 red finger chilli, sliced
- 1 stalk of spring onion (5 g), sliced
- 2 stalks of coriander (5 g)
Use a knife to scrape remaining scales off the yellow croakers.
Place the fish in a deep dish. Add white rice vinegar and 1 tsp of salt. Rub the mixture all over each fish. Rinse well.
Place the fish in a heat-proof dish and rub ½ tsp of salt over the two pieces, sprinkling some into the fish cavity. Take care not to break any fish egg or milt in the cavity.
Cover the dish with cling wrap and place it in the fridge to chill if you are not cooking it right away.
Remove the fish from the fridge. Leave it on kitchen counter 45 minutes before steaming.
Rinse the salted black olives briefly. Place an olive on the cutting board. Using a kitchen knife, gently slice around the middle of the pit as you push the knife forward. Pull apart the two halves of the olive gently with your fingers. It should come apart easily and cleanly. Discard the pit. Repeat with remaining olives. Slice the olives laterally.
Heat 2 tbsps of oil (30 ml) in a frying pan. Add the chopped garlic and olives. Stir-fry for 90 secs. Set aside.
Drain off excess water at the bottom of the dish containing the yellow croakers.
Place the stir-fried olive and garlic mixture over the fish. Steam the fish for 8 mins.
Two minutes before the end of the steaming time, heat 50ml of olive oil over medium-low heat in a separate pan.
Once the fish is steamed, add the sliced chilli and spring onion over the fish.
Turn off the heat for the oil and pour the hot oil over the fish. Garnish with coriander and serve immediately.
TIP Preserved salted black olives are available at provision shops, but there are not many choices. The brand commonly sold is Sin Guo. Or search for salted black olives online. One 180 g jar contains about 12 olives. You can use all of them for two yellow croakers. By the time you pit them, there is not much olive flesh left.
TIP After the fish is steamed, pour heated oil over the olive topping to further release the fruity aromas.
Text: Straits Times
Photo: Hedy Khoo