Kawan kawan, the other morning, on my way home from the school drop off, I chanced upon a poissonerie off the Raymond Poincaré. This little fishmongers was tucked away at the end of a passage way. I would never have found it if I didn’t venture into this Parisien passage following a signboard that was advertising the services of an art shop for les petites feés. My little fairy princess will be turning 5 soon and mamma was looking for a party venue.
Monsieur Poissonnier was very friendly in a chubby sort of way and his wife was equally charming in a less chubby sort of way. My eyes fell upon a box of cod fillets still packed in ice freshly delivered from Rungis Market. Aaahhh! I thought to myself, what I would do to have a bit of steamed ginger cod! So, I purchased a generous piece of fillet that I asked Monsieur to couper en deux. I would steam one half and save the other for another day.
The girls love their steamed cod. It’s a childhood dish that SS remembers well, cod doused in a soya/sesame oil sauce served over steamed rice or rice congee. RN, still only 4 and half eats her cod first, then the rice drizzled with that yummy sauce. This is how it looks:
This dish is easy peasy to make. My mother used to cook it the old fashion way – in a wok. Yes, you can steam meat, fish and vegetables in a wok, kawan kawan. But these days, one can use a steamer or the microwave. I, on the other hand, discourage this type of steaming, preferring instead to use this contraption:
Necessity is the mother of invention and this is the mother of all steamers invented by moi!, yes moi! due to the lack of steaming apparatus in my
house appartement in Paris. This contraption, as the name indicates, doubles as a pasta pot and drainer. When steaming, I place the fish or meat or vegetables in a metal dish which you’ve seen in the picture above that shows the ginger cod with a generous sprinkling of cilantro (coriander). The Teochew word for it is wang sui. Casting my mind back to my mother’s favourite phrase, ‘don’t forget the wang sui!’ , I remembered to dress my fish with this herb and also a handful of chopped spring onions.
This metal dish is then placed into the drainer which sits atop the pot filled half way with water that is allowed to boil to create the vapeur needed to cook the fish. 15 minutes later and voilà, you have steamed ginger cod. Cod is an easy fish to cook and is best eaten fresh, that is, purchased on the same day. It is an easy fish to wean children on too. Both my girls were weaned on cod. I decided to ignore the warnings given by paediatric nutritionists of the possible effects of anaphylactic shock caused by cod in toddlers. I am not advocating that you take this gung ho approach of mine, of course. This was a perfectly self induced choice because I was determined that my children would love fish and luckily for my kids who have me as their mother, they do!
Well, steamed ginger cod is not for everybody. The Italian, for one, abhors steamed ginger cod. He doesn’t know what he’s missing, of course. So, remember the other half of the fillet? Well, I saved it for him. Remember also that cod is best eaten fresh? So, I decided to follow my own advice and bake the other half with Ligurian pesto that I should have made, as any bona fide cook ought to do. But I haven’t yet learnt to make pesto. I was told that it is easy but the quality of the pesto depends on the basil and that basil from Genoa is the best. So, Genoa being rather too far away and not knowing where in Paris to get Genovese Basil, I, out of necessity, popped open a bottle of Sacla Ligurian pesto sauce, spread it generously on the cod, drizzled a generous amount of olive oil and stuck the fish in the oven. Here’s one I made earlier:
This took me only 15 minutes. I served it with fresh egg Fettucini mixed with the olive oil from the cod. Yummms!