One of the best things about going out to eat is trying to make your own version at home. I don’t have near the culinary genius to replicate what most professional chefs procure, but it’s tons of fun to play around with dishes they’ve inspired. These vegetables wrapped in the steamed white fish (pictured 3 pictures below called swai) is a perfect example of just that.
Inspiration on the river
A little while back, I went up to the Twin Cities for a Pinch of Yum Tasty Food Photography Workshop. What a great experience! If you’re into food photography, it’s a must. While I was there, I stayed at the Nicollet Island Inn. The hotel restaurant has big windows that over look the park and the river. You feel like you’re sitting outside at a sidewalk cafe, but you’re inside out of the unpredictable weather.
My favorite meal I had there was a lightly seasoned delicate white fish rolled around a variety of julienned vegetables. Everything was steamed and was nestled on top of a bed of rice pilaf. So good!
I’ve had vegetables minced and rolled up as a roulade in pork, beef, and chicken, but never fish. It never occurred to me that you could do that with fish. I thought it would simply break or flake apart.
When I got home, I made a bee line for the fish monger. I tried this with tilapia, flounder, trout, and swai. The last on the list is a light white fleshed fish that hails from Southeast Asia and is very similar to catfish. Steamed swai holds it’s shape beautifully, has a mild flavor, and only flakes when urged to so with your fork. However, truth be told, I do like to get fish closer to home but I was intrigued by the name and thought I’d give it a go. It worked beautifully.
When choosing a fish to wrap your vegetables in, make sure it’s thin and flexible enough to bend before it’s cooked. Then you’ve got a good chance it will hold it’s shape after it’s steamed. If tilapia is readily available, it works very well also.
And if you ever get a chance to visit Minneapolis and St. Paul, go. It’s definitely worth a long weekend, especially in July. It has beautiful parks, theater, cool urban ruins, great restaurants, and of course it’s home to Pinch of Yum’s food blogger/podcaster Bjork, Lindsey, and their pup Sage.
Steamed Fish Roulade**
- 2 tilapia filets bones and skin removed, filets should be no more than 1/2 inch thick.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 carrot julienned
- 1/2 zucchini julienned
- 1/2 red bell pepper julienned
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as a mix of parsley, thyme & chives)
- salt and pepper
- steamer or steam basket; or cooling rack & light weight mixing bowl at least 8 inches wide*
- pot holders or oven mits
If you don't have a steamer, put a large skillet on the stove with 1/2 inch water. Put steam basket in the water, cover, and simmer.
Lightly salt and pepper the fish.
In a separate skillet, saute the vegetables until crisp tender with the olive oil then lightly season with salt and pepper.
Make 2 small bunches with the julienned veggies and wrap 1 filet around each bundle and secure with a tooth pick.
Place fish bundles in steamer or steaming basket*.
Steam for 15-20 minutes. (Keep checking water level, and fill as needed)
Remove from steam. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
Serve on a bed of wild rice and enjoy!
*Try this Macgyver-esque steaming technique if you don't have a steamer or steam basket on hand.
- Place skillet over medium heat and fill with 1/2 inch water. Simmer.
- Place cooling rack over skillet.
- Put fish bundles on cooling rack. (Check water level, fill as needed).
- Cover with light weight bowl. To remove bowl, make sure to use oven mitts. It with be HOT!!!!
You can also you the 1/2 of the vegetables that you have left over in a nice side salad with lettuce. Use the remaining lemon with olive oil and salt & pepper as the dressing to jazz it up.
**Roulade - French for "wrapped around or rolled up"