Steamed Rainbow Trout with Asian Pesto Dressing


Steamed fish is as homey as one gets in Asian home cooking.  Living in west LA I have no access to Ranch 99, a big Chinese supermarket chain known for its bubbling tanks of live fish.  There is where I play God.  I point out the fish that I want and the fishmonger swiftly scoops it out of the tank and kills it.  Here I got myself civilization and Costco.  Whole Foods and its f&*k you prices for its seafood is not an option.  And because I am cheap, like to eat whole fish and consume it in one seating, my imaginary seafood decision tree concludes that rainbow trout is my BFF, “best fish forever”

This is a good vacuum cleaner recipe to use up leftover or wilting herbs. Throw any combination of scallion, cilantro, italian parsley, garlic, tomato in a food processor and you got yourself a sauce.  For marketing purposes I am calling any finely minced vegetation combination a pesto.  Add a jalapeno or two for heat.  Dressing the fish with this pesto and searing it with really hot oil is essential to reducing the sharpness of the herbs and releasing their natural oils.



Rainbow Trout

  • 1 Rainbow Trout
  • A thumb of peeled ginger, sliced
  • 2 lemongrass stalk, bruised
  • 2-4 kaffir lime leaves


  • A handful of italian parsley or cilantro
  • 1/2 thumb of ginger
  • 10 cherry tomatoes or any tomato you have available
  • 1-2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce



  1. Clean fish and place on a plate.
  2. “Score” or make three deep cuts across the thickest part of the flesh on each side.
  3. Stuff the ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves into the cavity of the fish.
  4. Steam fish for 8 minutes.
  5. Take fish out of steamer and discard 3/4 of liquid produced.
  6. While fish is steaming, combine all pesto ingredients into a food processor and pulse till finely chopped.
  7. Pour pesto over steamed fish.
  8. Heat 4 Tbsp of any unflavored oil with a high smoking point till it is smoking.
  9. Pour hot oil over the pesto, searing the herbs.  You should hear a sizzling sound.

Cook’s Notes:

Do not worry if you do not have the harder to find herbs such as lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves.  The key is to use ginger and scallion.  The fish will taste even with just ginger and scallion.  If you do not have fish sauce use soy sauce.  Try the Ginger Cilantro Sauce because it is based on the same concept.







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