YUNNAN STEAMED FISH WITH CURRY AND BLACK BEAN SAUCE
I drew on a recipe from a favorite cookbook (Calvin and Audrey Lee's Gourmet Regional Chinese) tonight for a quick and delicious and fairly low-fat West Chinese preparation for fresh sea bass. This one made a great match with a fruity and inexpensive Alsace white wine made from the uncommon Auxerrois grape.
Here 'tis, as modified:
Cut a 1-pound sea bass fillet (skinned and boned) into three squarish chunks, and slice two or three slits into the top of each. Place them in an open pyrex serving dish and place it on a rack in a wok over water for steaming. Mince about 1 tablespoon fresh ginger very fine and scatter it over the top of the fish. Set aside.
Mince plenty of garlic and fresh ginger (1 tablespoon or more of each) and the white portion of two scallions. Chop the green part of the scallions and set aside separately. Measure out 1 tablespoon Chinese black beans with garlic. Measure out 1 teaspoon (don't overdo) Madras curry powder. Measure out 2/3 cup chicken stock and stir in 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon Sherry.
About 10-12 minutes before dinner, cover the wok and fire it up to high to start the fish steaming. (Don't forget to put water in the wok under the steaming rack!) While the fish cooks, heat a sautee pan over high heat and, when it's very hot, drizzle in 1 tablespoon peanut oil; when it's very hot, stir-fry the garlic-ginger-scallion mix and black beans; add a little water if necessary to keep it from burning. When this starts to cook, stir in the curry powder, then add the stock mixture, stir, and reduce heat; let it simmer and reduce while the fish cooks. Shortly before the fish is done, pour this over the fish, re-cover, and continue cooking for another minute or two. Remove the wok from heat, scatter the chopped green scallions over, and serve with hot steamed rice.