It's not, really, it's not. In fact, fish is the staple of my favorite "Twenty Minute Meal." If you have a glass dish with a lid (i.e. Pyrex or Corning), you can use it to steam fish in the microwave. Yes, I said microwave, but bear with me. You know how microwaves are famous for steaming veggies like broccoli and asparagus so perfectly? Fish gets the same gentle treatment, and because fish has such a high water-content, it's nearly impossible to ruin it. Fish only takes 5 minutes in the micro, and this cooking method is healthy, too. Follow the time management tips below and this meal will be on the table in 20 minutes if you are serving (white) rice, or even less if you are serving cous cous.
First things first, put some rice (try basmati or jasmine depending on how you are preparing the fish) in the rice cooker and turn it on. Or, get your water boiling for cous cous. (Don't forget to salt the cous cous water and add a little butter or oil.) While rice or cous cous is cooking, prep the fish. You can use any kind of thicker fillet (salmon, halibut, bass, snapper etc.) Lay the fish (I cook about a pound and a half for my family of four) in a lightly oiled glass dish. If you are working with several fillets, it is okay if they overlap.
Now, the fun part. You can give your fish any kind of flavor you want. Don't worry about being precise. Just glop everything on top of the fish, cover it with the lid, and away you go. Here are my favorite additions:
- a few glugs of coconut milk, a couple cloves of smashed garlic, some ripped (Thai) basil leaves, a handful of cilantro leaves, sliced chilis, smashed lemongrass stalks or lime zest, and a dash or two of fish sauce
- grated citrus zest (any kind), citrus juice (any kind), sliced green onions, garlic, salt, and pepper
- a shmear of pesto (preferably pesto made without cheese)
- a palmful of ground cumin, a couple cloved of crushed garlic, sliced sweet onion, cilantro leaves, salt, and pepper
- a splash or two of light soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil, grated ginger and a glug of mirin (rice wine), sprinkle with sesame seeds
- a heaping tablespoon of black bean chili sauce rubbed over the fish and some xiao tsing rice wine (or sherry)
Cover and microwave for 4-5 minutes or so for a 1 inch-thick fillet and let sit covered until the rest of your dinner is ready. Comes out perfectly steamed/poached everytime.
While the fish is cooking, make a green salad or saute some quick-cooking veggies like snap or snow peas, green beans, or broccoli.
There you have it. Dinner in under 20 minutes.