Last week we took a trip to Toronto’s Chinatown. While it is fun to just meander up and down the streets, we were also on the lookout for a large bamboo steamer. We finally found one, and, at $16 including tax, it was worth the hunt, given that specialty kitchen stores sell them for more than $50. The next day, we visited the fish counter at Whole Foods and bought a whole Branzino fish, also known as European Sea Bass. It was the perfect size for two. To prepare it, I adapted a recipe for steaming whole fish from the May 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The fish is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil, topped with ginger and scallions and steamed for 15 minutes. It was amazing, and so easy.

Marinate the fish in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil

Top the fish with scallions and ginger, place on top of red onion and steam

We served the fish with rice and a mélange of rapini, onion and peppers.

The steamed fish is moist and delicious

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use tamari sauce, which uses alcohol as a preservative instead of sodium benzoate.


½ cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons toasted-sesame oil

1 whole branzino or other whole fish, scaled and gutted, gills removed

1 piece (2 inches) peeled fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks

5 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

2 cups water

1 large red onion, sliced ½ inch thick


Whisk together soy sauce and sesame oil in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cut a few slits into the fish on both sides using a sharp paring knife. Transfer to dish; turn to coat.

Toss ginger with scallions; stuff some into each fish cavity. Spread remaining mixture on top of fish. Let stand, covered, spooning marinade over fish often, for 30 minutes.

Bring water to a boil in a large skillet or wok. Arrange red onion on bottom layer of a 12-inch bamboo steamer. Remove fish from marinade with ginger-scallion mixture still on top, and arrange side by side on onion; reserve marinade.

Set steamer in skillet. Steam, covered, until fish is cooked, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook until reduced by half. Strain through a fine sieve. Serve fish with reduced sauce. Serves 2.

Adapted from the May 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living