The word for fish, "yu," sounds like the Chinese words for both "wish" and "abundance" so fish is always enjoyed at Chinese New Year celebrations. The fish is served whole, with the head and tail attached, representing a good beginning and ending for the year to come. You may use snapper, flounder, bass or branzino for this recipe.
1 ½ pound whole red snapper (or you can use flounder, bass or branzino), with head and tail intact
salt and pepper
1 scallion, julienned
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
4 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 red chili, deseeded and julienned
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
6 cilantro sprigs
Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the scallion and ginger inside the cavity of the fish and spread the remaining scallion and ginger on top of the fish, along with the shiitake and chili.
Place the fish on a heatproof plate that can fit in your stockpot or wok. Mix together the soy sauce and sesame oil and drizzle over the fish. Pour 2 inches of water into your stockpot or wok and bring to a simmer. Place a steamer rack inside, making sure the water does not touch the steamer in the wok or on the rim of the stockpot. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the steamer.
Place the plate with the fish in the steamer, cover the pot or woke, and steam for 8-10 minutes, until the fish flakes easily when tested with the tip of a knife.
Carefully remove the plate from the steamer and pour off any liquid. Top with with the cilantro and serve.
OVEN STEAMED METHOD
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Line a baking dish big enough to hold the fish with enough foil to cover and wrap the fish without any gaps. Add the fish as prepared above. Mix together the soy sauce and sesame oil and drizzle over the fish.
Fold the foil over the fish and seal the edges together to create a foil packet.
Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or a little longer depending on the size and thickness of the fish, until the fish is cooked through. Top with with the cilantro and serve.