The Restaurateur Behind The Grid’s Le’chon Shares an Easy Fish Recipe You Can Whip Up at Home
ILLUSTRATOR ROLAND MAE TANGLAO
With close to a dozen dining concepts under her helm, restaurateur Happy Ongpauco-Tiu has many culinary tricks up her sleeves. She grew up in the kitchens and service floors of restaurants such as Barrio Fiesta, Isdaan, Bakahan at Manukan, after all. Now, the visionary behind Happy Concept Group, which boasts of a portfolio of bespoke private dining catering services, Hawaiian BBQ, Mom Made, World Topps, and most recently, The Grid’s Le’Chon stall, is continually growing her culinary empire. Despite this, she remains keen on sharing a few of her own personal recipes with the public. Two years ago, she and some of the top names in Manila’s dining scene published some of their family’s heirloom recipes in a cookbook entitled Legacy. A few days ago, Tiu shared her own recipe for a fish creation that will, thankfully, aid us in the hectic preparations for the wave of holiday dinners and potlucks coming our way.
Here is her recipe for a Thai-inspired Steamed Fish with lemongrass and chili, which she claims goes well with freshly cooked jasmine rice:
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1/2 tsp chicken bouillon
1 /2 cup boiling water
3 limes, get juice from the two pieces and slice the third piece for garnish
1 tbsp granulated sugar
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 or 3 red chilies (best with Thai chili if available), finely chopped
1/4 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup spring onions finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp fish sauce
4 to 5 stalks lemongrass, bruised
Whole fish (multiply sauce by 3, if cooking 3 pieces of fish)
1. In a bowl, dissolve chicken bouillon and sugar in hot water.
2. Add in garlic, coriander leaves, spring onions, lime juice, garlic, and fish sauce. Mix all together and set aside. (You may also adjust the sauce according to your taste using ingredients above).
3. Prepare your steamer. Place Glad Cook and Bake sheets inside the steamer container and leave it overhanging on the sides. This makes it easier to handle the fish when cooked. (My mistake here is I forgot to put the sheets, so the bottom part of the fish semi-broke when I transferred it to the platter—Glad Cook and Bake's strong and heat-resistant paper assures us that it won’t tear up and our fish will be in its perfect form).
4. Season fish with very little salt and some pepper, and a few tablespoons of the sauce made then put lemongrass inside the cavity.
5. Place the fish inside steamer and cover for 15 to 20 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked.
6. When cooked, lift up the bake sheet with the fish and discard the liquid.
7. Place the fish on a serving plate and pour the sauce on top. Add more cilantro as garnish.