It's that time of year again: new year, new goals, new resolution. This means healthier choices. If healthy eating is one of your goals for 2020, I'm here to help make clean eating and cooking easy!
As the CEO of Cooking Beautiful Lee—in which I provide in-home cooking lessons as a chef instructor—I constantly hear people talk about how they would love to eat healthier, but they struggle to prioritize their health when focusing on achieving other goals.
When it comes to your nutrition, you must set the goal and find recipes that are easy to replicate and utilize ingredients that are good for your health. Most importantly, the end product has to be comforting and delicious, so you will want to cook it over and over again.
To get you started, I will share a recipe for Antioxidant Goji Berry, Soy, and Ginger Steamed Fish. You will be amazed by how delicious it tastes and how easy it is to create this dish at home. I've cooked this entrée with many students, and I've never failed to amaze them with how simple it is to cook and how profoundly delicious it tastes.
Growing up in Taiwan, I enjoyed scrumptious goji berries in various dishes. The goji berry is native to Asia, and people in Asia have been using this brightly colored fruit for more than 2,000 years as a medicinal herb and food supplement. Now in the USA, goji berries are widely available for purchase in well-stocked supermarkets and online. Goji berries contain healthy antioxidants. Antioxidants are known for their immune-boosting qualities, and their ability to fight harmful free radicals and inflammation. Dried goji berries have a distinct flavor reminiscent of a cranberry or a sour cherry. It is a versatile ingredient. In Taiwan, we use them in both sweet and savory dishes.
If you cannot find goji berries or kombu (dried kelp also used in my recipe), don't get discouraged and give up. Make this dish without them—it will still be great. I promise! The goji berries make the color of this dish more appealing and add healthy benefits, but without it, the meal is still flavorful because of the other ingredients such as the shiitake mushrooms. Dried shiitake mushrooms add a deep savory flavor (umami) to dishes. I like to think of them as healthy little punches of flavor. Try to make the dish with what you can find in your supermarket and improve it with the other ingredients when you have an opportunity to get them.
Steaming is an ideal way to handle sea bass, since it is a gentle cooking method, and it avoids the inevitable drying of a lean fish. Any lean fish filet can be substituted for the sea bass. You are looking for a mild and elegant taste. Halibut works just fine! What I love about this recipe is you will have the fish broth after you finish steaming. Just add some Japanese Udon to the broth, and you have a full meal! Nothing is more comforting than a hearty noodle soup in cold January.
Here is my Goji Berry, Soy and Ginger Steam Fish Recipe. Happy cooking!
2 skinless sea bass fillets 6–8 oz.
1 piece dried kombu 4x3" (optional)
3 tbsp. goji berry
2 tbsp. sake
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
¼ large or ½ medium head of Napa cabbage. Stems thinly sliced crosswise. Leaves torn if large (about 5 cups)
4 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms, julienned
1 piece ginger 2", peeled, cut into thin matchsticks
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Japanese Udon (for serving)
- Slice fish into six pieces; season all over with salt.
- While fresh shiitake mushrooms are definitely softer and cook quickly, the properly rehydrated dried mushrooms have a deeper flavor. Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and add really hot or even boiling water to cover it by a few inches. Let the mushrooms sit for at least 20 minutes until the caps are tender.
- Trim off and discard the tough stems, and the caps are ready to cook. Slowly pour the mushroom soaking liquid into a measuring cup and stop when you reach the gritty stuff at the bottom.
- Soak dried goji berries in hot water for a few minutes until they've softened.
- Combine kombu (if using), sake, soy sauce, mirin, and ¾ cup mushroom soaking liquid in a medium donabe (clay pot) or Dutch oven with lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
- Layer the cabbage stems, then the leaves in the pot. Scatter goji berries, mushrooms, and ginger over them. Then place fish over the mushrooms.
- Cover pot and steam until fish is opaque and just cooked through for 8–10 minutes.
- Add the Japanese Udon to the broth and cook for 5 minutes.
- Drizzle the sea-bass with sesame oil and top with scallions.
- Serve in shallow bowls with broth spooned over and Udon alongside.
Want to learn how to cook fishes in different way with a professional? Book a Zoom cooking lesson with me!
Chief Entertaining Officer
Melissa is 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), where she worked as a food writer. She’s also worked alongside renowned chefs like Ming Tsai and Joanne Chang, honing her craft and gathering stories along the way. Part story-teller, part educator, and part food lover, Melissa brings a special blend of experience, skill, and enthusiasm to her work. She blends her Asian background, her new home of New England, and love of food and culture to bring joy, optimism, and inspiration to food lovers and fun-seekers everywhere.
What sparked your passion for the industry?
The desire to make things by hand. The joy of sharing delicious, hearty food with students. The opportunity for people to get connected via cooking and baking. When a child smiled broadly and told me it’s the best scone he has ever made and eaten, it really made my day!
In your opinion, what’s the most important course?
Well, I usually take a peek at the wine list first. I like tapas style, so the course doesn’t really matter. Cheese and charcuterie are always a good place to start. And since I’m a pastry chef, there is always room for dessert!
Bill Gates is picking up your tab, where would you go?