Ensure that the fish is properly scaled and all traces of blood clots and innards are thoroughly removed and washed off. See my '6 Simple Steps to Scale and Clean Your Fish Like A Pro' for more details.
Pat the inside and outside of the fish dry with a kitchen towel.
Slant the knife against the fish's body and make two deep cuts across ( about 2″ apart) and on both sides of the fish ( in the direction of the fin towards the stomach).
Insert the wedged tomato into the slit.This allows the inside of the fish to be evenly cooked. Then place the fish on a stainless plate with deep sides.
Wash the tomatoes, spring onion, ginger, pork fat, sour plum and mushroom.
Soak the mushroom in hot water for 30 mins.
Remove the mushroom stalk and cut into 3 big slices. Cut the spring onion into 2 inches lengthwise. Remove the skin from the ginger and cut into 4-5 slices.
Cut the fat in big, thin slices.
Cut the kiam chye into thick slices and soak in warm water (enough water to cover just above the kiam chye) and soak for 15mins. Squeeze dry and set aside.
Lightly mash the sour plum.
Place the ginger slices, kiam chye, mushroom, sour plums including the seed, pork fat, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp soya sauce and the rest of the tomato with the fish. Chilli may be added if you prefer.
Add in 2 bowls of boiling water to the fish.
In a wok, add enough water to cover the rack and boil over high heat.
When it’s boiling, put the fish on the rack and cover it and steam for about 8 mins over high heat.
Turn off the heat and put the spring onions on top of the fish.
In a small pan, add 1 TBsp of oil and heat up till very hot, pour over the spring onion.
Add sesame oil and 1 TBsp of Hua Tiao Chiew, pepper and salt to taste.
Before serving scoop the soup over the fish a few times so that the salt, oil, sugar, soya sauce will be evenly distributed. Serve Hot.
Do not buy frozen fish for steaming. They are only good for deep frying.
Add thinly sliced ginger to the fish before steaming to help to mask the fishy smell. The ginger must be thinly sliced to give a more fragrant aroma
Once the fish is steamed, immediately place the spring onions on top of the fish and pour very hot oil over it. As you do, you will find the hot oil brings out a wonderful fragrance from the spring onions as well as the fish.
Pour 1 TBsp Hua Tiao Chiew or Brandy over the fish and serve immediately if you prefer. Its best to do this when the fish has just been removed from the heat to maximise the fragrance and flavours of the wine.
Do NOT oversteam! 7-8 minutes for pomfret of 400-500gm (provided that there is enough water to cover the top of the steaming rack, and a stainless plate is used) is sufficient. The 2 bowls of water added to the fish must be boiling hot or the cooking time will be different.
An extra 2-3 minutes of steaming may be required if you use porcelain or oven-proof ware.
Make sure the water in the wok does not overflow into the plate when it is boiling, otherwise the soup will have more water than necessary and it will be tasteless.
During steaming, try not to open the cover. Otherwise the sudden drop in temperature will change the cooking time of the fish.
Steam the fish only when the dinner is ready to be served as the fish takes less than 10 mins to steam. Once the fish turns cold, it is not as delicious.
Remove the wok cover after steaming or it will continue to cook. Use a chopstick to poke at the thickest part of the fish. If it flakes easily, the fish is cooked.