The simple technique of “steam-braising” brings a twist to traditional steaming that incorporates a source of fat, an infusion of aromatic flavor, and a sauce that will knock your socks off. This works with nearly all lean white fish like halibut, Pacific cod, lingcod, or rockfish. Steaming fish is a technique that will quickly expose the quality of your fish so make sure you know your fisherman! Recipe adapted from The River Cottage Fish Book.
- For the Fish:
- 1½-2 pounds Pacific cod, halibut, lingcod, or rockfish, thawed
- 1-2 dry bay leaves
- 2-3 teaspoons dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
- For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons cream or plain greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons white wine
Cut fish into 2-inch pieces and salt liberally with coarse salt. Set aside to season for 20 minutes.
Add the dry aromatics (bay leaves, thyme, fennel seed, black pepper) to a deep fry pan or wide sauce pan and stir continuously over medium heat until they release an aroma but do not brown, about two minutes. Remove from heat and let aromatics cool in the pan. Once the pan has cooled, add the olive oil, butter, wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic to create the braising liquid. Return pan to medium heat and bring to a slight simmer while gently stirring.
Once the braising liquid is simmering, add the fish, keeping a little space between pieces. If space is an issue, cook in two batches (see tips). Cover, and cook fish for 4-6 minutes depending on the thickness of fish. Turn fish over with tongs and cook 2 more minutes. Do not cover. The fish will easily fall apart when it's ready, so remove fish from the pan gently and set aside.
Pro tip: leave a ½ inch or so between pieces when arranging in pan. Do not crowd the pan with too much fish. Instead, cook in two batches and add a little more white wine and another tab of butter for the second batch.
Do not rinse the pan. Simply remove the bay leaves and add the sauce ingredients to the same pan. Over medium-low heat, tilt pan and gently whisk cream and wine while butter is melting. Gently scrape the sides of the pan to get any brown bits until sauce thickens. Remove sauce from heat and pour over fish to serve.
Don’t use white wine you wouldn't drink. Also don't drink all the wine before you start the recipe. :)
The fish will release a lot of liquid so don't worry if it doesn't seem like you have enough liquid in the pan to steam.
Cook the fish in two batches if you must. Just remove the first batch when done and add a little more wine and butter for the second batch.
Wild at Home
- with Richie Mann -
Steaming fish doesn't have to be boring. Wild at Home has taken the gentle and ancient technique of cooking with steam and given it a twist, coined “steam-braising” by River Cottage Fish Book. Because we are clever, we are calling this twist a “steamnado.” Richie breaks down this simple technique that is perfect for whitefish but can also be adapted for salmon. Whatever fish you use, don’t skip creating the sauce! You will regret it plus it only takes 2 minutes.