One of my favourite restaurants to go to is Lan Je for its beautifully steamed tilapias. There’s only one style of steaming but you can ask for mild, normal or spicy. Of course, I always go for spicy.
You can read about Lan Je here, here and here.
Although a new Lan Je branch has recently opened practically at my doorstep, in spirit of home cooking, I tried to replicate the dish that I love so much.
# – Steamed tilapia fish Lan Je style.
I was very pleased because, while it’s didn’t have the unmistakable taste of Lan Je, it was pretty damn close :)
For the fish preparation:
- 2 tilapias about 200-300 grams each, cleaned and scaled
- 2 cm of ginger, sliced
- Enough water to cover fish in a pan/pot
For the sauce:
- Some of water
- 8-10cm of ginger, finely diced
- 2 bulbs of garlic, finely diced
- 6 bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced (less if you can’t take that hot)
- 2 tablespoons of fermented soyabean paste (taucu)
- A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- A teaspoon of dark caramel sauce
- A few dashes of light soya sauce
# – First, blanch the fish in boiling water with sliced ginger for about 1 minute. As you can see, I was too lazy to boil a big pot of water so I just boiled some water in a pan and flipped the fish to cook briefly on both sides :P Rock it out your way. Do not over-cook the fish, by the way. Remove the fish from water, pat to dry inside and outside then set aside.
This step is to remove the nasty smell of fish as well as bitterness that might affect the taste of the sauce when you steam a raw fish straightaway.
# – To make the sauce, fry up the minced ginger, garlic and bird’s eye chillies with a bit of oil till fragrant.
# – Add the fermented bean paste or taucu and mix till combined.
# – Next, add in some water. The fact was, I put in too much water. I would really reduce the amount of liquid in my next attempt. Depending on how deep the plates that you’re steaming your fish in, estimate the amount of water as you do not want the fish to be drowning, just resting in a shallow pool of sauce. Also, fish produces liquid as it steams, a lot of liquid. If you think you need more liquid, you can add later. Finally, I’d say…about 2 tablespoons of water will do for now ;)
Do note that in the following pictures you will notice that the sauce looked pretty liquid, but as I warned against putting in too much water, just imagine the sauce is quite dry instead :P
# – Add a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
# – Followed by dark caramel sauce for colour.
# – And a dash of light soya sauce.
# – Now place the fish in its own plate and pour the sauce all over each of them. Do not worry if there’s no liquid at the bottom of your plates as depicted in the pictures, I put in too much water remember?
# – Steam for 15-20 minutes.
# – When done, garnish with spring onions and freshly cut chillies if you liked.
# – Steamed tilapia fish Lan Je Style, DONE. See how the fish are half submerged in sauce? Don’t get me wrong, the sauce tasted superb (GREAT with rice) but like I said, I’d prefer them lying on a shallow pool of sauce instead of swimming in it hahaha.
# – Flaky flesh, yums.
You can adjust the level of spiciness accordingly by controlling the amount of bird’s eye chillies that go into the making of the sauce. This recipe is quite spicy, but I can take quite hot so if you’re not sure, reduce the number of chillies to 3 or errmm…1.
So there, my first attempt in replicating a Lan Je style steamed fish. Can’t wait for my next try and hopefully it’ll be perfect then!