We heard for a number of times that the best way to cook a fresh fish is to poach it in salt water instead of steaming it. With poaching, the timing of cooking can be easily controlled, it’s easier to make the fish silky. The salty water also brings out the umami of the fish.
We tried out 2 ways of poaching fish in salt water in this article. Let’s see if that’s really better than traditional steaming fish in Cantonese style. At the end of this article, we will also select the most delicious way of cooking fish!
油鹽水浸沙巴躉 Poached Grouper in Salt Water
The first method is shared by a HK Youtuber. The fish is poached as a whole. Let’s see how it works.
Before we share how to cook, let’s talk about the fish first. For these 2 times we used HK$55 Sabah Grouper. This is a hybrid specie of Giant and Tiger Grouper. In recent years it is a very commonly served fish in Cantonese style banquet as it harvests quickly and cheaper than wild groupers. However, the flesh is relatively coarser.
The fish was processed already when bought in the market. We would still need to clean it thoroughly and peel away the secretion on skin
The way of cooking is simple. We first put slices of ginger and some scallions together with 2 tbsp of salt into boiling water. Let it comes to boil again and then we can add the fish.
Switch to low heat, add 2 tbsp of oil. In the course of cooking, scoop up the hot water from the pot and pour on the fish. When it comes to 5 mins of cooking, turn the fish around and repeat the steps. Then it can be taken out to a plate.
Before serving, spread some chopped scallions on top and pour boiling oil onto the fish. Finish by adding some soy sauce.
With this way of cooking, the fish was indeed more silky but we don’t know why it also became quite chewy which we don’t particularly like. In terms of flavour, salty water wasn’t really doing well in enhancing the umami of the fish compared to soy sauce. In addition, there were more steps involved in this method than simply steaming it… So we came up to a conclusion that this may not be a very ideal way for us to cook a fish lol
And we recently noticed that there is another way of poaching fish in salt water. We also tried this out.
Chopped the fish into pieces after cleaning it. BTW, this anti-mold cutting board is very good.
Prepare some ginger and scallions
On high heat, stir fry ginger slices and then add 2 tbsp of crude salt
Add the fish pieces. Let it cook for awhile
And then we could add water to cover the fish. Switch to low heat, let it cook for 3 mins. When it is close to 3 mins, add scallions. During cooking, scum on top can be sieved away
Then it’s time to serve. Compared with the first method, this method brought out more flavour and it also kept the fish silky. We will probably stick with the second method if we are to make poached fish in salt water next time.
To us, steaming is still a better way to cook a fish than poaching it. . A well made soy sauce for steamed fish is the game changer. For poached fish, it’s ok to make it occasionally if we want to change the flavour. But if we are to do it again, we will opt for the second method.
Yet, speaking of our favorite way of cooking fish at home, waterless steamed fish is on the top of our minds. It’s true that steaming a fish can bring out its umami, but the heat also tends to make the fish chewy. Using the method of waterless steaming, we can apply relatively gentler heat to cook the fish. Not only does the fish become more juicy and tender, the umami can be better brought out. There is no return since you try this method.
This Waterless Steamed Fish in Golden Sauce is our favorite way to cook fish
Sichuan Fish is one of our favorite fish dishes
For simple seafood dishes, we recommend this waterless steamed prawns