Serious Eats: Recipes

Naomi Duguid's River Fish 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.

Reprinted with permission from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid. Copyright 2012. Published by Artisan. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

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