I’d heard stories of an age-old fishing technique, dating back to 960AD, of Bai Chinese fisherman training cormorants to dive into the water to catch and retrieve the fish. To see it still used today was incredible watch. Steaming is such a simple, clean, healthy way of cooking fish. Make sure the water is at a rapid boil before cooking it.
- 20 g (3/ 4 oz) dried glass noodles
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp salted soya beans
- 300 g (101/ 2 oz) boneless barramundi or other firm white fish fillet, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 pieces banana leaf, each measuring about 20 cm x 25 cm (8 inches x 10 inches)
- 1 long red chilli, julienned, plus extra to serve
- 1 tbsp garlic oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 20 minutes
Put the noodles in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain and cut into 4 cm (11/ 2 inch) lengths.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the soya beans and stir them through. Add the fish to the bowl and turn the pieces to coat with this mixture. Set aside.
Run the banana leaves through an open flame a few times, or place on a medium heated grill, until they darken and become pliable — about 10 seconds on a naked flame, or 30 seconds on a grill.
Place two fish portions in the centre of each banana leaf. Top each with half the noodles and chilli, and drizzle each with half the garlic oil. Fold up the sides to form a parcel and fold the leaf over the fish and noodles.
Half-fill a steamer, wok or large saucepan with water and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Cover and steam the parcels for 7–10 minutes.
Carefully remove the parcels from the steamer. Serve with steamed jasmine rice, and a small bowl of soy sauce and sliced red chilli for dipping.