MARLIN STEAMED WITH THREE PEPPERS (FUSION)
In the never-ending quest for entrees that are really healthy and still taste good, I've been experimenting lately with ways to cook fish without added fat. After several tasty experiments with poaching fish and seafood and baking it in the oven, I've now moved on to steaming. This procedure isn't just for Chinese dishes any more -- it's a startlingly quick, simple and effective way to cook fish so as to retain all its natural flavor, a perfect foil for interesting sauces and accompaniments.
Last night, on the spur of the moment, I came up with a sort of fusion Chinese and Mexican rendition.
I started this very simple preparation by getting the vegetable accompaniment ready: Slice one red bell pepper, one yellow bell pepper and one fat poblano pepper into julienne strips, mix them together and set aside. Mince as much garlic as you can stand and an approximately equal amount of fresh ginger, mix together and set aside.
To cook the vegetables, heat a small amount (no more than 1 tbsp) olive oil in a nonstick sautee pan. Add the minced garlic and ginger and cook over medium- high heat just until they soften and become highly aromatic. Add the julienned peppers and stir-fry for a moment or two, then reduce heat to low, add about 1/4 cup of water, and cover; leave to simmer while the fish cooks.
About an hour before dinner, place the fish of your choice (I used a flat, 1- pound slab of fresh hebi, a firm-fleshed, dense white fish that the fishmonger described as "a Hawaiian marlin") on a large plate and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime over it, then dust with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
To steam the fish, place a folding metal vegetable steamer into a large saucepan, preferably big enough that it lies down almost flat. Fill the pan with water almost up to, but not quite touching, the steamer, and toss the squeezed lemon and lime halves into the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat so the water simmers steadily when covered, and place the fish on the steamer rack. Cover and let steam for about 10 minutes. (This varies a lot depending on the thickness and texture of the fish, but was about right for the firm, 1-inch hebi steak.)
When the fish is done and the vegetables cooked but still firm-tender, put the fish on a plate; cover and surround with the cooked peppers, and serve.
This was about as simple as it gets, and it made an excellent match with a Lirac, a dry white Rhone wine that was more or less in the same ballpark with a non-oaky Chardonnay. You can also spice up steamed fish by including other aromatics (wine, herbs) in the water, and by placing a bed of chopped or sliced vegetables (onions, etc.) on the steamer basket under the fish.