Reader Mits Yamada of Chicago was a big fan of the steamed fish with black bean sauce at Bob Chinn’s parents’ Chicago restaurant, New Wilson Village, and has missed it since the restaurant closed several years ago. As it turns out, the dish lives on. After New Wilson Village, brothers Bob and Wally Chinn served the fish at Kohala Terrace, their (now-closed) Polynesian concept in Northbrook. When Bob left Kohala to open his namesake restaurant in Wheeling — now one of the top-grossing seafood restaurants in the country — he agreed to a 15-year moratorium on selling any Chinese dishes, as a competitive courtesy to his brother. When the dish finally moved to Bob Chinn’s menu, it became — and has remained — his top-selling fish entree.
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons each: sesame oil, sherry
- Pinch white pepper
- 4 fillets (7 ounces each) fresh fish, such as halibut, grouper, sea bass
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger root
- 2 tablespoons chopped each: Chinese dried black beans, Chinese dried black olives
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3 green onions, cut into thin strips
- For sauce, whisk together all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Set aside. Place fillets in the top of a steamer over almost boiling water; cover each with a thin layer of ginger, dried beans and olives. Lightly sprinkle each fillet with cornstarch.
- Cover; steam until fish almost flakes when tested with a fork, 9-10 minutes. Place each fillet in shallow bowl. Whisk about 2 tablespoons of the steaming water into the reserved sauce. Top each fillet with about ¼ cup of the sauce. Garnish with cilantro and green onion.