Friday, March 30, 2007

Steamed Maliputo

I try to eat fish (well, seafood in general) as often as I can. Not only because I actually like seafood (contrary to popular belief as I am forever extolling the virtues of pork), and C loves seafood, but also because (and this may be the shallowest reason of all, so please just humor me) I live in a tropical archipelago and I believe it is my solemn duty to live the island life to the fullest…even if I actually live in a little flat in the middle of a quite-polluted and over-crowded city.

So how do I like to inject a little tropical salsa into my stodgy city life? (Oh Jo! It’s not that stodgy and you know it!) By wearing tank tops and flip-flops at every occasion, by using my sarongs as d├ęcor, by buying tanning oil in the middle of a busy work week, and by eating seafood to remind myself that “Yes! I am surrounded by fish because I live in a tropical paradise!

I can feel summer starting to sharpen its claws on my back, drawing rivers of sweat instead of blood. Technically, I have upwards of 7,000 islands to which I can escape, basking in the sun and eating juicy ripe mangoes. But, in reality, there is work to be done, budgets to be drawn, and schedules to be managed…so a beach getaway will just have to wait. But until then, I can put on my flip-flops, play some samba on the Ipod, and feast on some fish.

Steamed Maliputo
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion, half sliced and half chopped
  • 2 native tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 lemon, slice the middle portion thinly, use the end portions for zest and juice
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium sized maliputo (or other white-fleshed fish like lapu-lapu, pompano, or maya-maya), gutted and cleaned
  • 2-3 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Parchment paper

- Line a bamboo steamer with a square of parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang.
- Rub fish with sea salt and cracked black pepper inside the cavity and out. Place on parchment inside the bamboo steamer.
- Mix the garlic, chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon zest, and ginger. Stuff what you can of this mixture in the cavity of the fish, along with a couple of the lemon slices. Scatter whatever is left of the mixture around the fish.
- Drizzle fish with the lemon juice, sesame oil and soy sauce. Top with the rest of the lemon and onion slices. Fold in parchment (it doesn’t have to close completely as it will cook in a steamer anyway) and close the steamer.
- Heat water in a wok until it comes to a rapid simmer. Place steamer in the wok (making sure the water does not touch the contents!) and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Serve the fish in the steamer, because one of the chief joys of owning a bamboo steamer (aside from the fact that they are workhorses in the kitchen and are cheap to boot) is the drama of you taking it to the table (oooh!) and whipping off the cover theatrically (aaah!) to reveal the succulent goodness that lies inside.

Malitputo is a catadromous fish that is either similar, or actually is (I’ve seen both views) talakitok (Trevally/Jack). Its white flesh is firm and incredibly flavorful. When steamed it becomes so moist and almost buttery that my eyelids go all a-flutter when I eat it. (I get mine at the Salcedo Market when they have it)

Whether you are in the sun or in the shade, have a happy weekend! :)


Freya and Paul said...

Great post! I know what you mean about getting revved up for summertime by eating summery foods! It at least temporarily tricks you that you're somewhere other than a busy city!
The fish looks so good!

Midge said...

Lovely fish you have there, Joey. We do a similar recipe at home, but we use slivers of underripe pineapple instead of lemon. It tenderizes the fish during cooking and imparts a sweetish flavor that goes so well with the mild flavors of the fish.

Mila Tan said...

So true about the bamboo steamer, it is a great tool to have around. No dimsum house in HK and southern China would be the same without the towers of bamboo steamers working away to cook the gems inside. And for something as lovely as that fish you made, you don't even have to plate it because it's already dressed to the tropical nines.

Gattina said...

I adore steamed fish. It's one of the greatest things of living in island... super-duper fresh fish always on market. Your dish is so beautiful!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Freya! Thank you :) Yes, food can really influence how we feel...which is great!

Hi Midge! "Slivers of underripe pineapple"? I'm so there! Great idea and thanks for sharing it :)

Hi Mila! Thanks! :) And I do love the bamboo steamer...I want to get more and stack them! Then I can learn to make dimsum :)

Hi Gattina! I agree! Where my husband was born (in the southern part of the Philippines) the seafood is the even more amazing...sigh...island life :)

valentinA said...

Hi Joey!
thanks for dropping by at Sweet Temptations:)
I love seafood as much as you though I can only content myself on fish:( Your recipe sounds lovely, I might try to use your seasoning for my next steamed fish!:)

Socky said...

That's one special fish! As you know, Maliputo can be found only in Taal Lake. I didn't know you can buy it in Manila markets. I only get to enjoy it when I visit my friend in Lipa.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Joey, I love fish and I love flip flops (Havaianas here, yay!). ;D

This fish is so delicious! And healthy and light. Great combination!

mae said...

I've never heard of this fish but it looks and sound so good.

You got me dreaming of summer. :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Valentina! Well, you know what they say, there are plenty fish in the sea :) So there is a lot to still explore :)

Hi Socky! Yes, I have heard...They sometimes have it in the seafood stall at the Salcedo Market :) It's really good!

Hi Patricia! Lucky you! Havaianas is really huge here...everyone's wearing them and my best friend is a big fan :) Yes, I love this's delicious and makes up for the other things I eat that may not be as healthy or as light ;)

Hi Mae! As Socky mentioned it's found in Taal Lake, just like tawilis (also super delicious!). Wooh! Summer is coming in with a roar here!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Joey that is some really fun writing on your part. You are turning some fun phrases
summer starting to sharpen its claws on my back, drawing rivers of sweat
flip-flops and samba on the iPod
How much better can it get...well lots better with that fish to eat...most beautiful!

Barbara said...

My family don't like fish cooked whole, but I could dtry this with fillets.

ces said...

i'll be dancing [and singing!] samba with you anytime while we feast on this dish joey!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tanna! If you come over here you will see just how sharp those claws can be! :) Thank god for the flip flops...and the samba ;) And the fish!

Hi Barbara! Yes, you could definitely do this with fillets :)

Hi Ces! Haha! Dancing and singing is always goes well with good food! Reminds me of beach parties... :)

christine said...

Hey that looks so fresh and healthy, I love it! I'll need to get a bamboo steamer too. :)

Veron said...

I love steamed white fish! Need to look for a good bamboo steamer. I threw the last one away because it was ugly and inefficient.

JMom said...

Even though I live in a land locked city, I am still an island girl at heart and will always have to have my seafood :) I love how you used the parchment paper on the steamer! I would have never thought of that. Now I will have to try it next time I can't find just the right plate to use in the steamer. I think they call maliputo butter fish here.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nens! Thanks :) I got mine in SM dept store :)

Hi Veron! I like it raring to do more with the dimsum! And maybe even something for dessert :)

Hi Jmom! Once an island girl, always an island girl ;) Yes, the parchment lets you make the most of the space if you don't have a plate that is an exact fit :)

taRugiE said...

Hello people. i'm a newbie. i would love to try your steamed maliputo recipe as my family go gaga on maliputo. whenever we crave, we drive all the way to talisay, batangas as a relative sells the fish at a kamag-anak rate of P450 per kilo. Your recipe is a very good alternative to the typical sinigang sa miso and deep fried in olive oil.. thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe..

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tarugie! Thanks for dropping by :) Maliputo is such a soft and tasty fish...we love it too! I find it in the Salcedo market sometimes and that's where we buy it...