The Trick To Steaming Whole Fish

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As a means of communicating with professional cooks who write interesting articles with accompanying, tantalizing recipes, absolutely nothing beats Twitter.

Two of my favorite New York Times Dining section authors, Melissa Clark and David Tanis, both respond to questions about their recipes via Twitter.

They don’t know me. But when I query them via Twitter, both answer.

How amazing is that? You try a recipe you’ve clipped from the NYT, have a question, and simply post your puzzlement to the author via Twitter – and voila, you get an answer. Huge kudos to Melissa Clark and David Tanis for taking the time to respond to readers.

In Not Whole Steamed Fish I posted about the delicious Steamed Whole Fish With Ginger and Sesame recipe by David Tanis — loved the recipe, but the steamer size puzzled me. I could not make the recipe as written because a whole fish would never, ever fit in my what-I-assume-is-a-typical-size (10 inch) bamboo steamer. So I used a fillet as his accompanying article suggested, but was very curious to know what kind of steamer he used. I really want to steam a whole fish in a bamboo steamer because the recipe picture looks amazing – and it’d be a lo-co yet very impressive way to serve fish at a dinner party.

I  direct messaged Mr. Tanis via Twitter with a link to my ‘Not Whole Steamed Fish‘ post, and he direct messaged me back:

“I used a big bamboo steamer 15-inch diameter but for large fish I often steam over a deep roasting pan straddling 2 burners.”

THIS is why I love Twitter — I don’t actually open or read Twitter in general, but I find it absolutely amazing that I can ask a NYT article author a clarifying question about a recipe or their article — AND THEY ANSWER.


Thanks, David Tanis.

Now, onto my steaming a whole fish project. Now that I know the key is a 15 inch steamer, I have one big problem: 15 inch bamboo steamers seem to be a restaurant staple, not something you can easily find for the home.  That said, I did find a few  – 1 on Amazon and several from some restaurant supply sites. But they were over $100.

I was tempted, but… $100?

Plus it’ll NEVER fit in my magic closet (where my many kitchen implements that are not frequently used and/or are huge live…I mean hide.)

So I will be trying Mr. Tanis’ suggestion to steam a whole fish on a big platter set inside the very large Calphalon roasting pan I use for Thanksgiving turkey.

Oh, wait? Does that roasting pan have a lid? I’ll have to dig in my magic closet to find out.

Maybe while I’m in there I can see if a 15 inch bamboo steamer could fit…



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