Steamed Cod with Sizzling Sesame Oil



Steamed Cod with Sizzling Sesame Oil

Yield: 4  |  Total time: 20 min
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I've written before of my admiration for Chef Tylun Pang and his very soulful food.  And when I landed last night in Maui, I turned on my phone to find this text from chef: "I have some beautiful onaga, red snapper, that just came in if u feel like a bite!" What a way to start a much-needed relaxing few days in Hawaii.  My husband and I drank lemongrass gin cocktails and passion fruit margaritas while Chef sat with us and talked fishing, Korean soap operas, and his passion for community.  He also fed us the fresh catch of the day, whole, head-on, steamed and sizzled with sesame and ginger.

What Pang does brilliantly at his restaurant, Ko, at the Fairmont Kea Lani is bring the flavors of diverse cultures -- he’s lived and traveled in Tokyo, South Korea, Hong Kong and South America -- to the table with ingredients indigenous to Hawaii. Every time I visit him, he always shares his local treasures and teaches me how his recipes can easily incorporate fresh local seafood, no matter where you are. On a previous visit, chef Pang showed me this simple, flavorful family recipe for steamed fish with Chinese sausage, ginger and herbs that allows the fish to be the star. Drizzling hot sesame oil over the ginger and herbs really makes the dish special; the sizzle adds a fragrant touch just before serving.


Recipe adapted from Chef Tylun Pang of Ko Restaurant in Maui. Pang uses local opaka paka, Hawaiian pink snapper or onaga, red snapper. Substitute lingcod, Pacific cod, Alaskan halibut, or even scallops. In Hawaii, banana leaves are prevalent. If you can’t find them at your local market, line a heatproof dish with lettuce leaves, kale, or cabbage, and place the dish directly in the steamer basket. Or omit and proceed with recipe using a heatproof dish for steaming. Chinese sausage, also known as lop chong, is a dried, hard sausage with a hint of sweetness; look for it in the Asian section of your local market.


    Banana leaves (or kale or lettuce leaves)

    4 (5 to 6-ounce) skinless filets snapper, cod or halibut

    Salt, such as Hawaiian pink salt, to taste

    6 ounces Chinese sausage (lop chong), or other dried pork sausage, thinly sliced

    1 (3-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled and cut into very thin strips

    1/2 pound vegetables, such as mushrooms and/or baby bok choy

    1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

    1 large bunch fresh cilantro leaves

    About 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

    3 tablespoons sesame oil or peanut oil

    Optional Accompaniments: steamed rice, hot sauce, toasted sesame seeds


    1. If using, cut banana leaves into pieces large enough to hold one filet, leaving a minimum 2-inch border all around. If using aluminum foil, do the same as with the leaves. If using lettuce or other leafy vegetable, line a large steamer or bamboo basket with the leaves. Alternatively, place the leaves directly in a heatproof serving dish or plate. Place a filet in each leaf or piece of foil and season with salt.
    2. Divide evenly the sausage slices, ginger, and vegetables over each filet. Gently wrap each filet and enclose or tie to seal loosely. Fill a large pot (a wok or large Dutch oven) with about 3 inches of water. Ideally, try to find a pot the size of your bamboo steamer baskets so they fit snugly right on top or just in the water.Bring water to a boil. Place fish packets (or fish in heatproof dishes) in the steamer/basket. Cover steamer/basket tightly with lid or foil and place over or in the pot of boiling water; the bottom of the fish shouldn’t touch the water. Steam fish, checking once to make sure there’s enough water, 7 to 9 minutes or until fish is just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook the fish.
    3. Carefully remove the fish packets (or heatproof dishes) and place on serving plates; snip open packets with scissors if too hot to handle. Top each filet with green onions, cilantro, and soy sauce. Heat sesame oil in a small pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Using a spoon, gently drizzle hot oil over each piece of fish; it will sizzle. Serve, if desired, with steamed rice, hot sauce, and toasted sesame seeds. –Kim Sunée

    Date Published: January 23, 2015

    All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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