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QUICK FIX

It's a Snapper

June 10, 1998|MAYI BRADY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Chinese-style steamed catfish is moist and perfumed with ginger, cilantro and soy sauce. At the market recently, I saw some great-looking snapper and decided to give it the catfish treatment.

I liked what I got. The snapper, mild in flavor, picked up the taste of the ginger, garlic and cilantro aromatics.

As with so much Asian cooking, the real work is in the chopping, and with this recipe, it isn't even much work. Be sure to keep an eye on the sauce as the fish cooks to make sure it doesn't boil away--a gentle simmer is the way to go.

Thai flavors were the inspiration behind the lemon grass rice, a delicately flavored side dish to serve with the fish.

For dessert, pick up cut wedges of pineapple in the produce section of the supermarket and serve them with a squeeze of lime juice.

MENU (30 MINUTES OR LESS)

Asian Steamed Snapper

Lemon Grass Rice

Pineapple Wedges With Lime

ASIAN STEAMED SNAPPER

1/4 cup light soy sauce

1/2 dry white wine

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sugar

3 cloves garlic

8 thin slices ginger root

3 whole green onions, halved

1/2 bunch cilantro

1 (2-pound) whole red snapper, cleaned

Stir together soy sauce, wine, water, sesame oil, sugar, garlic and 5 slices ginger in small bowl. Pour sauce into bottom of steamer with halves of 2 green onions and place rack above mixture. Spread cilantro over rack to cover.

Place remaining 3 ginger slices and remaining green onion halves inside snapper. Place snapper on bed of cilantro. Steam over simmering sauce until fish flakes away from bones, about 20 minutes. Remove fish from steamer. Strain sauce and serve on side.

2 servings. Each serving:

523 calories; 1,198 mg sodium; 134 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 13 grams carbohydrates; 78 grams protein; 0.27 gram fiber.

LEMON GRASS RICE (LOW-FAT COOKING)

2 cups water

1 stalk lemon grass

1 cup rice

Salt

Bring water to boil in medium saucepan.

Cut lemon grass into 2 or 3 pieces and crush lightly with back of knife. Add lemon grass, rice and salt to taste to boiling water. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove lemon grass and discard.

2 to 3 servings. Each of 2 servings:

289 calories; 148 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 63 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0 fiber.

INGREDIENTS

STAPLES

Garlic

Green onions

Lime

Rice

Sesame oil

Light soy sauce

Sugar

White wine

SHOPPING LIST

1 bunch cilantro

Ginger

Lemon grass

1 (12-ounce) container pineapple chunks

1 (2-pound) red snapper

COUNTDOWN

25 minutes before: SLice ginger and halve green onions. Combine ingredients for sauce.

20 minutes before: Begin cooking snapper. Begin boiling water for rice.

15 minutes before: Add lemon grass and rice to water.

Just before serving: Strain sauce for fish. Remove lemon grass from rice.

For dessert: Squeeze lime juice over pineapple.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Chef's Tips

Lemon grass imparts an aromatic, lemony flavor without the sourness of the citrus fruit. Asian cooks use only the solid lower portion of the stalk, often pounding it to extract more flavor. They then slice or mince it, cut it into sections or simply add it whole to a curry. Lemon grass is available at most Asian markets and some supermarkets.

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