food. family. life.

japanese steamed wild alaskan halibut & green tea rice

I am creating plans for this exciting new year of food exploration and adventure. My famiglia is busy getting back to work, school and a somewhat normal daily routine.

Stay tuned for some wonderful new recipes and food ideas I will soon be sharing with all of you in the next few weeks to come.

In these post-holiday days, my husband and I begin to crave something different. A lighter, uber-healthy fare with wonderful rich flavors to renew, refresh and inspire our tired minds and spirits from the long year completed.

A topic that I am continually learning and growing regarding food is the concept of preparing and cooking fresh fish. It was not something my famiglia cooked often and, being in upstate NY, the availability of fresh fish was rare.

When I moved to the sunny southeast Florida coast back in 1982, I was suddenly surrounded by hordes of fresh fish varieties, prepared in a thousand different ways. I loved all the flavors and textures and learned so much in those first few years about fish and fish preparations.

I tried them all and quickly found my favorites in type of fish and preparation style and flavor. One of our all-time favorite food cultures is found in the beautiful country of Japan. Dan and I hope to travel there someday, we adore the food, people and culture and wish to experience it in person.

Daniel and I learned to experiment and eat many Japanese fish dishes, like fresh authentic sushi and sashimi, with friends as we worked and traveled.

We simply love this fresh and healthy style of eating fish and we have raised our girls from toddlerhood based on trying everything at least once… now they are sushi addicts and enjoy fish dishes like this steamed dish.

Over the years, I also learned to find my own local fresh fish purveyor and I always ask about what is fresh and local or wild caught and frozen that I can prepare at home for my famiglia that day.

Dan taught me about a Japanese steamed fish preparation that is so simple, I know you will love it as much as we do. You will need to get a bamboo steamer with a lid for this dish (I found mine at a local shop.)

I choose to use a fish variety that Dan and I love, but you can choose any mild white-flesh, thick cut fish fillet (i.e. wild black cod, wild sea bass, wild grouper) for this recipe and it will be just as wonderful.

wild pacific halibut (photo courtesy of

wild pacific halibut (photo courtesy of






japanese steamed wild alaskan halibut & green tea rice


{the fish}

1 large wild alaskan halibut fillet (skin removed)

1-1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger root (finely grated)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 leek (cleaned and sliced lengthwise)

wasabi paste (to taste)

low sodium soy sauce and/or ponzu sauce (i like a combination of the two)

rice vinegar

salt & pepper to taste grapeseed oil


baby bok choy (cleaned and sliced)

1-2 carrots (peeled and julienned)

optional: japanese mushroom mix like shiitake, enoki and eryngii (trumpet mushrooms)

Place a medium stock pot 3/4 full of water on the stovetop on medium heat. Be sure your bamboo steamer fits perfectly once the lid is removed. Let it come to a soft boil. Take the fish fillet and season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. With your hands spread the grated ginger on all sides of the fish.

In this same fashion, spread some wasabi paste (to taste.) Wasabi is commonly used in sushi preparations but I also love using it in many of my cooked dishes these days. Please test the heat of the wasabi paste and see what your taste preference is here; I suggest starting with a small amount and adding more if desired the next time you prepare this dish.

Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter and place your season fish on top of the paper. Drizzle grapeseed oil lightly over the fish and place the julienned carrots, sliced leek and chopped garlic on top. Drizzle a small splash of soy sauce, ponzu and rice vinegar over all and wrap the fish up on all sides; seal the top of the parchment paper.

Set the fish bundle aside on a large baking sheet. With a second sheet of parchment paper, place the bok choy, grated ginger, mushrooms if using them and a small splash of soy sauce and fresh chives. Wrap and fold paper around this mixture and set vegetable bundle aside with the fish.

Place the fish bundle into the bamboo steamer and cover with the bamboo lid. Remove pot lid and place the bamboo steamer right on top of the pot of boiling water (be sure the water is boiling softly to create maximum steam here.)

Steam the fish for approximately 4-8 minutes (time varies greatly with size and thickness of fish); test the fish by opening a small part of the parchment and seeing if it flakes with a fork.

Do NOT overcook as it will make the fish too dry and tough. When done, remove the fish packet from the steamer and add in the vegetable packet and steam until fork tender. Remove and serve immediately with the steamed fish and green tea rice.

{green tea rice}

1 1/3 cups white rice (jasmine or short-grain sushi rice)

1/2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 tbsp. cold sake

1/2 cup loose-leaf organic japanese green tea

3/4 tsp. sea salt

1 tbsp. black sesame seeds fresh chives (optional)

Note: I like to add a sprinkle of seaweed gomasio (a delicious mixture of toasted sesame seeds, seaweed and sea salt to the top of the rice for flavor, texture and health benefits)

Cook rice according to the package directions. Drain well and mix in the sake and rice vinegar then set aside; keep warm. In a small saucepan, bring 2-2 1/2 cups of water to a simmer.

Put the tea leaves and 3/4 tsp. sea salt in a 4-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup. Pour the hot water over the leaves and let steep for 1 minute or so. Gently sprinkle the snipped chives and sesame seeds on the top of the rice once divided among large shallow bowls.

Slowly pour the hot tea mixture through a fine tea strainer around each mound of rice. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds (and seaweed gomasio, if desired) and serve immediately with steamed fish and vegetables.

cucinadimammina_steamed fish_gree tea rice2.jpg

Note: Photography provided by Annette L. Venditti
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