Technique Thursday: Vinegar Steamed Fish

With my fiddleheads last night I had an amazing purple sweet potato and some vinegar steamed fish.  It was such a nice, easy, light meal.  Vinegar steaming fish is one of those techniques I learned a long time ago that I use over and over again.  Prior to knowing this trick, I generally only grilled fish.  I don’t know why, but baked fish often doesn’t thrill me.  The basis of this technique came out of one of my all time favorite cookbooks called Salad Days:  Main Course Salads for a First-Class Meal by the award-winning chef Marcel Desaulniers who, up until fall 2009, was the chef and co-owner of the famous Trellis restaurant in Colonial Williamsburg.  I bought this particular book in the late 90s and I still use all the time.  Often cookbooks that are a little old don’t hold up well, particularly when thinking about super fresh ingredients, up-to-date nutritional thinking,  fat-content, and the like.  But, this one could have been written yesterday.  I am under the impression that it is out of print now, but I saw both used and new copies at some Amazon sellers.  I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to recommend picking up a copy.  This is my adapted version of his recipe for Vinegar-Steamed Red Snapper Fillets.

Basic Vinegar-Steamed Fish

  • 4 six ounce fish fillets (almost any smallish filleted fish will work here)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs 
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Wash and pat fish dry.  Place fish in a shallow glass baking dish (if your fillets have skin, place them skin side down).  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with onions and herbs.   In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and olive oil to boil, whisking frequently.  Pour boiling vinegar mixture over fish and cover immediately with foil and place in oven.  Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on thickness of your fish) until fish is cooked through and flakey. (Serves 4 – points vary based on the type of fish you use – just add one point for the olive oil)

Flavor variations

  • white wine vinegar, rosemary, lemon zest, shallots
  • balsamic vinegar, italian parsely, basil, oregano, red onion
  • red wine vinegar, basil, sweet onion
  • rice wine vinegar, tarragon, shallots

The possibilities are ENDLESS!!!  It just depends on what sort of flavors you are working with for your dinner or what sort of fish you have.  Last night, I steamed tilapia (had a few fillets left in the freezer from my last foray into Uncle Bill\’s Fish) using white wine vinegar, italian parsley, and vidalia onion.  It was very delicate, which was what I was looking for with the strong flavors of the fiddleheads and sweet potato.


About wwfoodie

Foodie trapped in a Weight Watcher's body.
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