Steamed Fish In A Spicy Garlic Sauce, Cheating Version


I’m calling it “cheating” since I’m <GASP!> using the microwave and not a traditional bamboo steamer. If you want to use the steamer, feel free, just set the ingredients on a plate inside the steamer and let it rip for a good 15-20 minutes.

But since I’m using fish I thawed myself after buying frozen on the cheap, it makes no difference in the end, flavor or texture wise. The microwave works by heating water molocules anyway, so microwaving fish is practically the same as steaming it anyway.

This is an easy meal to prepare and have on hand, which is why I do it.

I’ll get frozen cod or tilapia or orange roughy from Trader Joe’s or wherever – so long as it’s the frozen in vacuum sealed bag variety. This’ll keep in the freezer as long as anything else in my freezer. As much as I buy fresh fish to cook that very day, this turned out to be an easy way to work it into the dinner rotation without having to shop for it the same day.

Remove from the bag & thaw overnight in a covered dish in the ‘fridge.


1. Rinse the fillets and pat dry.

2. I put the fillets into a microwave-safe dish, in a single layer, spaced a bit – a nice 9×12 glass pyrex job works well.

3. I mix the following and spoon over each piece – I’ll put a ratio for a single piece of fish here, maybe 1/2 pound size: 1 tsp soy, 1 tsp chili garlic paste, 1 tsp hoison sauce, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1/2 tsp honey. Feel free to add freshly minced ginger, garlic or szechuan peppercorn to taste.

4. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and into the microwave. Now, my microwave has an automatic setting for fish, where a moisture sensor cooks it, tells me to rearrange it (I don’t) and then finishes. I let it sit for 5 minutes covered, then serve. If you microwaved a pound of fillets done this way on high for 5 minutes and then let sit, covered for 5 minutes, it’ll do. If you know your microwave and its behavior well enough, you could figure the right time out, although I’m assuming most of the newer models have these wonderful built-in sensors.

5. That’s really it. You can do the same thing with different sauces – I’ve done a chopped tomato/lemon/basil/salt & pepper arrangement, a butter/lemon one, and variations on the Chinese ingredients. They all work out fine. Tilapia, pollock or cod work very well, just a good white fish, not overly thick, that’ll cook up evenly in time.

I’ll serve the fish with rice or noodles, usually, or a nice crusty bread. It’s sorta the freezer to microwave version of a dinner thrown together from pantry items alone, and it’s pretty good.

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