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Clear-Steamed Salmon with Ginger-Black Bean Vinaigrette

From Barbara Tropp, China Moon Cookbook

Serves: 3-4


  • 1.5-2 lbs. salmon fillets, cut into 6- to 8-oz. portions, or 4 salmon steaks, skin on, bones removed
  • Marinade:
    • 3/4 c. Chinese rice wine or sherry
    • 3/4 c. dry white wine
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 1 tbs. hot chili oil
    • 1.5 tbs. Chinese black beans, not rinsed, coarsely chopped
    • 2 tbs. cilantro, chopped
    • 2 tbs. Ma-La oil, Five-Flavor Oil, or Japanese sesame oil
    • 3 quarter-size coins ginger, smashed
    • 1 large clove garlic, smashed
    • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, stems removed
  • 1 tsp. Japanese sesame oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced paper-thin
  • Ginger-Black Bean Vinaigrette:
    • 2 serrano chilis, tipped, halved, seeds removed
    • 1.5 tsp. garlic, minced
    • 1 tbs. ginger, minced
    • 1/2 c. pickled ginger
    • 1.5 tsp. "goop" from China Moon Hot Chili Oil
    • 2 tbs. Chinese black beans, minced
    • 2/3 c. cilantro, packed
    • 3 tbs. juice from pickled ginger
    • 2 tbs. white vinegar
    • 2.5 tsp. sugar
    • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
    • 3/4 c. corn or peanut oil
  • red bell pepper, diced, for garnish


  1. Combine marinade ingredients. Let stand 5-10 minutes to infuse. Marinade fish 20 minutes. Drain fish, allowing bits of black beans and cilantro to cling to each piece. Reserve 1/4 c. marinade.
  2. Blanch spinach in boiling water for 5 seconds to wilt. Drain and plunge in ice water to chill.
  3. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in food processor.
  4. Heat a large pot of water to boil. Arrange steamer: use heatproof plate or pan, slightly smaller than steamer, preferably 1-inch deep. Brush bottom and sides of pan with sesame oil. Spread spinach over bottom. Layer red onions on top of spinach. Place fish on top. Drizzle fish with a bit of reserved marinade. Place steamer over boiling water. Steam fish until medium-rare, about 10-12 minutes for 1-inch thick filet.
  5. Transfer vegetable bed and fish to serving platter. Drizzle with steaming juices, then top with vinaigrette. Garnish with diced red bell pepper.


  • Like many China Moon Cookbook recipes, this recipe is based on sub-assemblies, which I've never managed to plan ahead for. I substitute Chef Chow's Szechuan Hot Bean Paste for China Moon Hot Chili Oil: since it is mostly beans it qualifies as "goop"; for oil, I just skim a little off the top. It's very hot, so I cut back on the quantities. One of these days I'll get around to trying the sub-recipes: the infused oils and vinegars seem like small improvements, but I can see value in making my own pickled ginger (more juice). Nonetheless, store-bought pickled ginger works very well.
  • I use a standard Chinese bamboo steamer, two tiers, and 9-inch round cake pans. It's a little snug, but works. I've steamed as much as 3.25 lbs. of salmon in this apparatus.
  • I've moved the black beans from a garnish (in the recipe) to the vinaigrette. This was partly to resolve my own mental confusion: why does the "Ginger-Black Bean Vinaigrette" recipe not call for black beans?

Keywords: Chinese, Fish, Salmon.