Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total preparation time: 35 minutes
2 or 3 whole black sea bass, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds each, gutted and scaled
A large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
6 scallions, trimmed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt or sea salt
1 cup Soy-Ginger Sauce
Working Ahead- You can trim the fish and set it up with the ginger and scallions early in the day. Keep refrigerated until ready to steam.
Using a sharp knife or scissors, trim the fins off the fish. Make 2 diagonal incisions on each side of each bass.
Peel the ginger and slice it as thin as possible into long wide slivers. Cut 3 of the scallions into 1-inch pieces, then cut the white parts lengthwise in half. Thinly slice the remaining 3 scallions for garnish.
Place a thin sliver or ginger, a piece of scallion green, and a piece of scallion white inside each slit in the fish. Place the remaining slivers of ginger and cut scallions in the cavities of the fish. Refrigerate the fish if you are not cooking it right away; remove it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you want to steam it.
Set up the steamer or fish poacher; it should hold the fish with ample room for the steam to circulate. Fill the bottom of the steamer with water (it should not touch the steamer rack), salt the water, and bring it to a boil. Cover the steamer.
Meanwhile, rub the skin of the fish with the vegetable oil and sprinkle it lightly with salt. If you have parchment paper, put a small piece, cut to the same size as the fish, under each fish. Place the fish in the steamer and cover the steamer. Once you see the steam escaping from the pot, note the time: it will take about 20 minutes for 1 1/2 pound fish, or 30 minutes for 2-pound fish. To check for doneness, carefully remove one fish from the steamer and take a peek inside the cavity. If you see white spots or protein forming inside close to the head, it is ready. You can always cut into the meat (bottom side, so your guests won’t see it) near the head- if the meat is pure white, the bass is cooked.
Transfer the bass to a large serving platter. Generously spoon about half the soy-ginger sauce over the fish, and serve the remaining sauce on the side.
Soy-Ginger Sauce: Combine 1 cup light soy sauce (such as Kikkoman), 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, a large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger peeled and minced (1/4 cup), 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil, 5 tablespoons sugar, and 5 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped in a medium bowl and whisk well. Transfer to a bowl or other container and cover tightly. Refrigerate if not using within a couple of hours. The sauce keeps refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. Makes about 2 cups