I did my weekly shopping at Costco today. As usual, I brought a shopping list, but ended up buying many more items that were not on the list, such as a bag of organic roasted seaweed chips with brown rice. They were addictive and I wish I never saw them. There was no rock cod on my list, but I saw that the fillets were packed only hours before the store opened and decided to buy a tray. Freshness is the key to preparing any good seafood. That’s why many Cantonese restaurants have tanks that house the live fish or shell fish. When we order fish we would always ask for “swimming fish.” Well, rock cod packed on the same day is the next best thing to “swimming fish.”
Though my hometown Shanghai is a a coastal city, growing up I seldom had fish, which was usually reserved for special occasions or Chinese New Year. I never had any “swimming” rock cod either, only belt fish or yellow croaker. Nowadays, if you visit an authentic Shanghainese restaurant, you will see fried belt fish or braised yellow croaker on the menu instead of steamed cod. I began cooking and eating rock cod after I married my Cantonese husband, who measures the quality of a Cantonese restaurant by its steamed cod.
Today, I prepared the rock cod fillets by wrapping them in parchment paper with sliced ginger, scallion, red jalapeño and Japanese shiitake mushroom and then baking them in the oven. Wrapping the fish in parchment paper seals in the moisture and the flavor, and it also ensures the tenderness of the fish. It is like steaming in the oven. I love the intensely aromatic steam that escapes from the piping hot pouch when I open it. And the broth from the fish is absolutely delicious over rice.
This recipe is relatively easy and is one of the tastiest fish dishes that I have ever cooked. Try it!
Baked Ginger Scallion Shiitake Rock Cod
4 pieces 4 oz rock cod fillet
8 to 10 dried Japanese shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and sliced
3 stocks scallions, 2 inch slices
1 red jalapeno, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon thinly sliced ginger
2 tablespoons or more light soy sauce, separated
4 teaspoons or more Shao Xing cooking wine or other Asian cooking wine
4 teaspoons sesame oil
Sesame seeds for garnish
2 tablespoons Shao Xing cooking wine
Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for an hour or longer until completely soft and rehydrated. Keep the soaking water.
Marinate the fillets in the cooking wine and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes in a sealed container.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Wrap the fillet individually in parchment paper with 1 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon wine, 1 teaspoon shiitake soaking water, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, topped with slices of ginger, scallion and shiitake. If you prefer your fish a little saltier, you can increase the soy sauce to 2 teaspoons.
Fold the sides of the parchment paper together and seal with a metal paper clip on top.
Arrange the packets on a baking sheet.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or so depending on the size of the fish. I baked mine for 15 minutes because the fillets were thick. You can fold the tail end in two to match the thickness of the body. It is important not to over cook the fish. If anything, you should err on the side of under cooking it.
Serve hot from the parchment or transfer to a shallow bowl. The broth is so delicious that you will need a spoon.
If you don’t have dried the shiitake mushrooms, you can make this dish with fresh shiitake. Dried shiitake has a more intense flavor.