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SEASONAL RECIPE

Recipe: A whole Teochew-style fish, meant for a Chinese steamer, is cooked inside parchment in the oven

Teochew Steamed Whole FishSheryl Julian for The Boston Globe

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as part of a larger spread

Steamed fish is a classic of Southern Chinese cooking, but when I was a grad student, I didn't have space in the kitchen for the sort of massive steamer used to prepare this dish back home in Singapore. I settled on baking the fish en papillote as an approximation, and while I now have a steamer, I'll still cook fish this way. Teochew cooking is a regional cuisine of China, and the cuisine of my family, so fish cooked this way is very much the taste of home. What makes this Teochew presentation unusual are the garnishes, which give the dish a bracing sourness that's very different from the soy-ginger-scallion triad more commonly seen in Cantonese American restaurants. The pickled ingredients -- plums and mustard greens -- are available in Asian markets. If you cannot get the suggested ingredients, using half-sours will give an idea of how this dish is meant to taste. Choose a whole fish with its head and tail intact and have it gutted and scaled at the market. You may find Orata (also called sea bream), branzino, black sea bass, or my favorite, scup from local day boats. The species is less important than the weight (1 3/4 to 2 pounds). Stuff the cavity of the fish with the garnishes and double wrap it in two long sheets of parchment paper. Bake it in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, then let it rest for another 10 to 15 minutes. Don't skip resting the fish once it's salted and once the packet is out of the oven. You'll get a much more evenly cooked fish this way.

1whole fish (1 3/4 to 2 pounds), such as Orata, branzino, scup, or black sea bass, head and tail intact, fish gutted and scaled
Canola or vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
½ tomato, cut into 6 wedges
3 Chinese pickled plums, pitted (sold as "plums in brine") or 1/2 half-sour or sour cucumber pickle, cut into thin strips
1 leaf Chinese pickled mustard green, or 1/2 half-sour or sour cucumber pickle, cut into thin strips
3thin strips pork fat (can be omitted, but do not substitute bacon)
2tablespoons chicken stock or water

1. Make 2 deep, diagonal cuts on each side of the fish. Rub the fish with a little oil, then lightly salt the skin and inside the cavity as well. Let the fish rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet and 2 sheets of parchment paper about 4 inches longer than the fish.

3. Stack the parchment paper on the baking sheet. Place the fish on the parchment and stuff the cavity of the fish with some of the tomatoes and the plums and mustard greens or pickles, and pork fat, if using. Scatter the remaining tomatoes and plums, greens, or pickles, and the pork fat, if using, with the stock or water, on and around the fish.

4. Wrap the fish in the first piece of parchment, creating a form-fitting packet around the fish and garnishes, with a pleated closure. Turn the package over so it's now seams down. Repeat with the second piece of parchment. Turn the fish seams down.

5. Bake for 7 minutes. Turn the package so it is now seams up (you can use oven gloves to do this). Continue baking for 7 minutes more. Unwrap a corner of the parchment to check the internal temperature of the fish. A thermometer should register 145 degrees. If not, rewrap the fish and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until it reaches that temperature. (Total cooking time is 14 to 19 minutes.)

6. Leave the fish on the baking sheet. Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Unwrap at the table and serve with rice.

Tse Wei Lim

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as part of a larger spread

Steamed fish is a classic of Southern Chinese cooking, but when I was a grad student, I didn't have space in the kitchen for the sort of massive steamer used to prepare this dish back home in Singapore. I settled on baking the fish en papillote as an approximation, and while I now have a steamer, I'll still cook fish this way. Teochew cooking is a regional cuisine of China, and the cuisine of my family, so fish cooked this way is very much the taste of home. What makes this Teochew presentation unusual are the garnishes, which give the dish a bracing sourness that's very different from the soy-ginger-scallion triad more commonly seen in Cantonese American restaurants. The pickled ingredients -- plums and mustard greens -- are available in Asian markets. If you cannot get the suggested ingredients, using half-sours will give an idea of how this dish is meant to taste. Choose a whole fish with its head and tail intact and have it gutted and scaled at the market. You may find Orata (also called sea bream), branzino, black sea bass, or my favorite, scup from local day boats. The species is less important than the weight (1 3/4 to 2 pounds). Stuff the cavity of the fish with the garnishes and double wrap it in two long sheets of parchment paper. Bake it in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, then let it rest for another 10 to 15 minutes. Don't skip resting the fish once it's salted and once the packet is out of the oven. You'll get a much more evenly cooked fish this way.

1whole fish (1 3/4 to 2 pounds), such as Orata, branzino, scup, or black sea bass, head and tail intact, fish gutted and scaled
Canola or vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
½ tomato, cut into 6 wedges
3 Chinese pickled plums, pitted (sold as "plums in brine") or 1/2 half-sour or sour cucumber pickle, cut into thin strips
1 leaf Chinese pickled mustard green, or 1/2 half-sour or sour cucumber pickle, cut into thin strips
3thin strips pork fat (can be omitted, but do not substitute bacon)
2tablespoons chicken stock or water

1. Make 2 deep, diagonal cuts on each side of the fish. Rub the fish with a little oil, then lightly salt the skin and inside the cavity as well. Let the fish rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet and 2 sheets of parchment paper about 4 inches longer than the fish.

3. Stack the parchment paper on the baking sheet. Place the fish on the parchment and stuff the cavity of the fish with some of the tomatoes and the plums and mustard greens or pickles, and pork fat, if using. Scatter the remaining tomatoes and plums, greens, or pickles, and the pork fat, if using, with the stock or water, on and around the fish.

4. Wrap the fish in the first piece of parchment, creating a form-fitting packet around the fish and garnishes, with a pleated closure. Turn the package over so it's now seams down. Repeat with the second piece of parchment. Turn the fish seams down.

5. Bake for 7 minutes. Turn the package so it is now seams up (you can use oven gloves to do this). Continue baking for 7 minutes more. Unwrap a corner of the parchment to check the internal temperature of the fish. A thermometer should register 145 degrees. If not, rewrap the fish and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until it reaches that temperature. (Total cooking time is 14 to 19 minutes.)

6. Leave the fish on the baking sheet. Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Unwrap at the table and serve with rice.Tse Wei Lim