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Dragon Tea Smoked Snapper in a Spicy Brown Bean Sauce

Posted by Peggy on January 18, 2012

Dragon Tea Steamed Snapper in Spicy Brown Bean Sauce
Recipe: Dragon Tea Steamed Snapper in Spicy Brown Bean Sauce


  • 2 Dragon Lily Tea buds, optional
  • 2, 1-1 1/2 pound whole snappers, walleye or bass, head and tail intact and cleaned
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown or black bean sauce (found in Asian aisles of area groceries)
  • Several sprigs of cilantro plus 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 large knob of ginger (at least 3 inches long), peeled and finely sliced into julienne strips
  • 5 large scallions, cut in half then sliced into julienne strips
  • 3/4 cup peanut oil


  1. If steaming fish over tea, follow package instructions and brew enough tea to fill the wok or pan under which you will be steaming your fish. Take care to remove blossoms immediately after they open, otherwise they will fall apart.
  2. Score one side of fish with diagonal slices at 1-inch intervals, just cutting through the skin. Brush 2 teaspoons of bean sauce into each fish cavity. Stuff cavity with cilantro sprigs and several slices of ginger and scallion. Rub an additional 2 teaspoons each of bean sauce over scored side of fish skin.
  3. Meanwhile, place a bamboo steamer insert over a large lipped sauté pan (see above equipment notes). Pour tea or water into saute pan or wok to fill to 3/4-inches and let come to active simmer. When ready to steam fish, wipe off accumulated moisture from steamer top, place fish, scored side up, in the steamer insert over simmering tea or water; cover tightly. Steam fish 15-20 minutes depending on size of fish. Fish is ready when opaque to the bone; do not allow fish to oversteam.
  4. While fish is steaming, in a heavy bottomed pan or wok, heat oil to sizzling hot. Stir fry julienned ginger and scallions 30-60 seconds, continuously stirring, or until they are fragrant and limp. Remove ginger and scallions from oil; reserve. Reduce heat to low and whisk additional heaping tablespoon of bean paste and chopped cilantro into oil. Stir 30 seconds, then turn off heat.
  5. With a spatula, carefully remove and plate fish. Reheat bean and oil sauce quickly, if cooled, then divide sauce and reserved ginger and scallions over fish. Serve immediately. 

Equipment: You'll need a device to steam your fish. I used a 12-inch bamboo steamer purchased from Tsai Grocery on Oak Valley Drive, off Ann Arbor-Saline Road. It was a perfect fit over my 12-inch large-lipped saute pan, which I filled with 8 cups of tea for steaming. Mike Monahan broke the center off of his vegetable steamer, which works well for him. He says anything that accommodates the fish, keeps it above the liquid, and has a tight fitting lid to keep the steam from escaping will do the trick.

Active Time: 45 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 2 whole fish (2-4 servings)

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