Naomi Duguid's River Fish Celebration


River Rish Celebration [Photograph: Richard Jung]

Steamed whole fish makes for a virtuously effortless dish with instant presentation points, especially when topped with a psychedelic melange of ginger, chiles, and herbs as is the River Fish Celebration in Naomi Duguid's Burma. The whole snapper (or trout) is coated with a warming and floral paste of ginger, galangal, garlic, and lime before being tossed in a light broth spicy with chiles, cilantro, and even more ginger and garlic. Really, the only trick here is finding a pan (with a lid) big enough to fit a one 1/2-pound fish. My 12-inch skillet was just a bit too small, so I had to squash the tail a bit to make it fit. If you've got a wok and a large lid, you should be set.

Why I picked this recipe: Once again, this dish looked downright gorgeous when I first flipped through the book. I really couldn't say no.

What worked: This fish is the best kind of celebration food: bright, colorful, a total breeze to prepare.

What didn't: Perhaps it was my imperfect steaming set-up, but I found that I needed to use more water (up to 1/2 cup) and cook the fish a few minutes longer for flaky flesh and a drizzleable sauce. I also wanted a heavier hand with the salt, both on the fish and in the sauce.

Suggested tweaks: I wasn't a huge fan of the lime skin in the sauce. Next time I'd probably juice the limes and add the zest separately.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Burma: Rivers of Flavor to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at

Serious Eats Newsletters

Keep up with our latest recipes, tips, techniques and where to eat!

Comments can take up to a minute to appear - please be patient!

Previewing your comment: