Published March 1, 1995.
The key to this quick, healthful cooking method is judging cooking time, which is most affected by the thickness and texture of the individual fish.
Steaming fish is really very easy, but there is one factor that is a bit tricky, and that is how long to steam.
We've steamed all types of fish and found it to be a terrific method. Not only is it quick and easy, but it also keeps the fish moist and its flavor pure. Generally--with the exception of wild striped bass and sturgeon--if you like a fish cooked by another technique, you'll enjoy it steamed as well.
In our testing, we found the two most important variables affecting steam time to be the thickness and texture of the individual fish. Times are more affected by the thickness of the fillet or steak, for example, than by weight or size; as long as they are roughly the same thickness, an 8-ounce salmon fillet and a 1-pound salmon fillet take the same amount of time to cook. The easiest and most effective way to add flavor to the fish while it is cooking is to steam it on a thick bed of herbs or other aromatics such as onion, lemon, or ginger. This has the added advantage of preventing the fish from sticking to the steamer basket. Using an aromatic steaming liquid will also flavor the fish, but it needs to be very strongly flavored because the fish doesn't steam for long. We also found that we often wanted a little something on top of steamed fish for added flavor, even if it's just a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs. Below are some quick sauces that complement many of the steamed fish in the related recipes.list of recipes