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Steaming in foil packets is an excellent way to prepare whole fish, because clean-up is a breeze, and the fish won’t dry out. Red snapper looks stunning in this application with its rosy color, and the juicy white meat tastes divine. We drew inspiration from Chinese-style steamed fish for this recipe.
The nuttiness and subtle brine of red snapper go so well with flavors of garlic and soy sauce. During the cooking process, the soy sauce will reduce slightly forming a sauce you can pour over top of the fish. The saltiness of the soy brings out the natural salinity and sweetness of the snapper. Don’t be afraid to dig your fork into the bottom of the platter to get some sauce in every bite.
Whole steamed fish is easier than it looks to serve. The meat will lift right off the bone, and then you can remove the frame in one piece to get to the bottom fillet. Serve the snapper with fresh cilantro and scallions on top and a side of steamed rice.
Remove the whole snapper from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a sheet tray with a piece of tin foil double the length of the tray (enough to cover the tray and fold over top). Place fish on the folded tray.
In a small bowl, combine scallion pieces, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
Light season the fish on both sides with salt to taste, but keep in mind the saltiness of the soy sauce. Drizzle the entire contents of the bowl over the top of the fish and enclose it in a foil pack. Completely seal the edges to ensure no steam escapes.
Bake fish until just cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. The flesh will just start to flake and the skin will pull apart slightly when it's done cooking. Remember that the fish will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven. Don’t let it overcook.
Transfer the whole fish to a serving platter. Gently lift the foil and pour the liquid and any excess garlic and scallions. Top the snapper with fresh cilantro leaves and sliced scallions and serve alongside steamed rice. The fish will easily lift away from the bones. Divide the fish onto plates and spoon sauce over top, or just dig in directly from the serving dish.