Me: “What can I help with?”
Mom: “Julienne the ginger and green onions.”
Me: “Again??? Why is it always julienning ginger and green onions???”
This is a common conversation in my mom’s kitchen. I was always eager to help, but she always gives me the the most mundane tasks. It’s either cutting ginger, green onions, or peeling garlic.
Such care is always taken into her chopping. Ginger and green onions for steam fish has to be cut into thin, even, floppy shreds. Using a box shredder is out of the question, because the pressure from pushing the ingredients on to the shredder would transform them into a mushy slump, and not the distinct pieces that my mom was looking for.
To be quite honest, at the time, I thought it was a waste of time. Wouldn’t cutting large strips, or dicing, have the same effect anyway? Why all the hassle?
Years later when I cook myself do I realize how much care she took in her cooking, down to the little details such as the ginger and green onions. It was a reflection of her care for us. It was then that I was touched. Now each time I cut my own ginger and green onions, I julienne them, because it is a warm reminder of my mom taking the utmost detail in every single dish she makes for us.
Ginger and green onions are the most used when we steam fish at home. I like to make this recipe of steamed salmon with black beans, because 1) I love salmon and 2) it gives me a chance to cut thin strips of ginger and green onions, just the way mom likes it.
STEAM SALMON STEAK WITH BLACK BEAN PASTE
1. Do not lay the ginger on top of the fish for too long – lay them on just before you steam it. I was told that if ginger comes in contact with raw fish for too long, then the fish meat becomes mushy and doesn’t taste fresh anymore. It was told by my grandmother to my mom, who then told me. I don’t know if there is any scientific proof behind that. I just do as I am told.
- Salmon steak – about 1/2 lb
- Fermented black soy beans – about 2 tablespoons
- Garlic – 4 cloves, minced
- Soy sauce – 2 tablespoons
- Ginger – enough to cover the surface of the salmon steak – julienned
- Green onions – 1 sprig, julienned
- Cooking oil – 3 tablespoons
1. In a bowl, soak the fermented black soy beans in room temperature water for 5 minutes, or until they are no longer hard, and then dispose of the water.
2. Add water into a wok with a steaming rack, or a steamer pot, and turn to high heat to boil the water to use later.
3. With the back of a spoon, flatten the black beans until mushy.
4. Add the minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce into the black beans, and mix well.
5. Place the salmon on a plate, and spread the black bean paste evenly on to the salmon steak.
6. Sprinkle the green onions evenly on to the salmon steak.
7. Once the water in the wok or steamer pot is boiling, place the plate with the salmon into the wok/steamer pot, and steam at high heat for 7 minutes. Once cook, remove from the wok/steaming pot, and place the plate inside an empty sink, away from any water, for the next step. Add the green onions and spread evenly over the cooked salmon.
8. In a non-reactive sauce pan, add 3 tablespoons of cooking oil, and heat it at high heat until it is steaming.
9. Making sure that there is no water around the plate of salmon that is inside the sink, pour the hot oil evenly on to the salmon, and the green onions (to cook them). BE VERY CAREFUL IN THIS STEP WHEN HANDLING HOT OIL.
10. Once the oil has stopped sizzling, bring the plate back up to the counter. At this time, you will notice that there is some water in the plate. That is the oil and essence from the fish that resulted from the steaming process, and has a lot of flavour. Drizzle the remaining soy sauce into this fish oil (not directly on to the fish, but around the fish). Quickly stir the fish oil with the soy sauce so it is well mixed.
11. Tilt the plate so that the fish oil/soy sauce mixture accumulates on the bottom of the plate. With a spoon, drizzle the fish oil/soy sauce mixture on to the salmon steak so the sauce can infuse into the meat as it filters through the ginger and green onion.