Steamed Whole Fish using Scup

I was excited when the Seafood section introduced whole scup, as it meant an opportunity to try out a recipe I’ve always wanted to give a go–Steamed Whole Fish in the Chinese style.

It came out fantastic, but I had to fly by the seat of my pants a bit because of some, uh, surprises with the scup. The scup is listed as cleaned and scaled, but at least my version (which is admittedly from when the item was very first introduced) definitely still had quite a few scales, the fins attached, and most importantly the gills had not been removed. That said, it was still gutted and opened, so a lot of the really nasty work was definitely done. If your scup is likewise only mostly-cleaned and you want to take a stab at this:

  • Pull the gills through the back of the head and remove them. This supposedly makes the fish bitter (and it does smell livery to me, in a bad way, so I suspect this is true.)
  • Use shears to cut the head away from the fish (you can keep it intact at the spine, you’re just separating the fillet from the gill flaps and skull.)
  • I recommend cutting off the tail most of the way to the spine and (with gloves and/or a knife–the bones and fins are sharp!) prying the fish open along the spine a bit–when you eat it, you’re going to want to take out the bones, and this makes that much easier. Otherwise you’re like… awkwardly pulling off the top half of the cooked fish and picking the bones out of it.
  • If you can live with dealing with them post-cooking, though, cook it with the bones on. This makes the sauce much more flavorful and jellies the leftover sauce, which melts on hot rice and is very delicious!
  • The recipe relies on the fish being fresh, so make sure not to defrost your fish until the day you plan to cook it!
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Thank you so much for sharing @KateC! Very valuable insight on prepping Scup. I might try and give this a try while the weather is still cold!