Hello everyone! It’s been a while. I just came back from a vacation in Spain with my daughter. We went to Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, and Montserrat, and had a fantastic time! Spain is a beautiful country, and the food is simply amazing! We especially enjoyed the rich food culture. We tried and loved all sorts of dishes such as jamon (ham), paella, Galician octopus, fried anchovies, gazpacho, pig ears, chorizo, olives, and churros dipped in chocolate sauce. That’s what I’ve been up to– how about you? How is your summer going (oh, winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere, which a wonderful couple from Australia we met in Spain reminded me).
Today’s recipe is one I wanted to post before I left, but didn’t have a chance because of last minute trip prep.
Saengseon jjim (생선찜) generally refers to a steamed or braised fish dish. Saengseon means fish, and jjim means steamed or braised. Traditionally, it’s made with a whole fish, most commonly with a red snapper (domi, 도미) — hence domi jjim (도미찜). The whole fish is stuffed and garnished beautifully with vegetables and other delicacies for special occasions such as weddings, traditional holidays, and birthdays for elders.
I used to make two batches of the whole fish version for our extended family gatherings until I realized steaming two large red snappers was a bit too much work when I had to make many other dishes at the same time. I created this recipe as an alternative! It’s basically a baked fish inspired by the traditional saengseon jjim.
You can use any white fish fillets — cod, flounder, haddock, tilapia, etc. Typically, egg jidan (thinly sliced omelette) is used for the white and yellow garnish for domijjim, but I used yellow bell pepper and onion instead. Minari (미나리, water dropwort) is great for a green color and its unique herbal flavor, but you can use a green pepper or green chili peppers. Julienned cucumber (without seedy part) or garlic chives (buchu, 부추) work well too. Any mushrooms will work, but to get some color, use brownish/blackish mushrooms.
This baked version is much easier to make and equally delicious. The diners don’t need to eat around the fish bones. It’s also versatile! You can easily make a larger batch by using more fish and other ingredients, using a larger baking dish as necessary. The tender, flaky white fish with colorful vegetables is perfect for a dinner party! You can do all the prep work ahead of time and bake it before serving.
- 1.5 to 2.5 pounds fresh white fish fillets (haddock, tilapia, cod, or flounder)
- 1/2 large red bell pepper
- 1/2 large yellow bell pepper
- 6 ounces minari, water dropwort (or 1/2 green bell pepper or a few green chili peppers)
- 4 ounces fresh shiitaki mushrooms
- 1/2 large onion
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup dashima (dried kelp) broth (or any other flavored broth)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
- Clean the fish and pat with a paper towel to dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside while preparing the other ingredients.
- Remove the seeds and ribs from the bell peppers. Thinly slice each color pepper.
- Cut the minari into 2-inches pieces. Thinly slice the mushrooms and onion.
- Heat a pan with a little bit of oil. Stir fry the onion until translucent over medium high heat, lightly sprinkling with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate. Stir fry the peppers one color at a time for 1 to 2 minutes until softened. Do not overcook, the vegetables should be crisp. Transfer to the plate.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
- Dredge the fish in flour one at a time. Shake off excess flour.
- Lightly oil a baking dish. Spread 1/4 of the vegetables at the bottom, and then place 1/2 of the fish on top in a single layer. Spread another 1/4 of the vegetables on top of the fish. Drizzle 1/2 of the sauce over everything.
- Place the remainder of the fish on top in a single layer. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the fish. Loosely cover with aluminium foil. Bake at 400 °F for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and nicely arrange the remaining vegetables, placing each vegetable separately. Place the aluminium foil over, and bake for 10 more minutes.