First, a little back story. My parents recently received a bunch of seafood from an old family friend who is based in Palawan. One of the things they received was a huge whole fish, which my dad thinks is probably deepsea fish because it had little or no scales. It was about 1.5-2 feet in length, and about 3 kg in weight. Now my mom is currently out on vacation, and would not be able to cook this fish for my dad. Naturally she assigned me the task of making this fish edible.
Since it would be mostly my dad who will be eating this fish, frying it would be out of question since he cannot eat very oily food. Baking would have been an option, except that their house does not have a working oven. The only methods left are steaming or stewing, and for whole fish it is probably better to go the way of the steam. I have never cooked fish prior to this since I’ve never learned the proper way to buy fish. It’s off to the internet for resources.
I found two recipes from Casa Veneracion that seemed interesting: Steamed Fish with Oyster Sauce and Spicy Steamed Fish (which incidentally also had oyster sauce). Since I had a huge fish, I figured I could do both if I cut the fish in half. That’s what I proceeded to do. With the help from my dad, who gutted the fish (it’s his first time gutting a fish too!) and sawed it in half, and my brother, who sliced up some of the vegetables, I proceeded to cook two versions of steamed fish using my mom’s shiny new steamer. I had to adjust since the recipes instructed to steam using the oven. Essentially, I steamed the two halves of the fish at the same time since there are two levels to the steamer. I put the spicy one at the bottom and the non spicy one at the top so that the non spicy one will remain not spicy. I also lined the two levels with aluminum foil to prevent the juices from spilling. I started counting the minutes once I saw steam coming out of the exhaust hole in the lid, and I let the fish steam for about 20 minutes.
Here’s the non-spicy half (tail part):
And here’s the spicy half (head part):
Not bad, if I say so myself. The only thing I wanted to improve on was the spicy half, since it wasn’t really spicy enough to be noticed. We ended up just slathering more chili garlic sauce on our fish as we ate it. On the whole, I was just very relieved that it came out edible and not a disaster.