Two well-known methods of cooking fish gently are steaming or poaching. Unfortunately I have yet to find a piece of cookware that allows both and accomodates different size fish.
I bought the largest available circular bamboo steamer that has multiple layers, but even the large size does not properly accomodate a long fish. I can twist the fish to fit, but it looses its shape in the process and makes an unattractive object for serving.
On the other hand the long narrow metal fish cookers that range in price from about $45 (cheap Chinese) to $200 plus (Mauviel) do maintain the shape of the fish but are so constructed that they can only be used for poaching.
The problem is that they are badly designed. They consist of three parts, a lid, a cooking vessel, and a rack. The rack has long upright handles on either end so that it can easily be lifted in and out of the vessel. Once the rack is lowered into the cooker, the lid sits on top, thus retaining the heat.
Unfortunately unlike the multipart bamboo steamer, that offers different levels and different distances from the cooking liquid/steam , the metal fish cooker allows only one level, the lowest, immersed in the boiling bouillon. It is possible to put ramekins at the bottom of the container below the rack to raise the rack above the liquid to allow steaming, but then the end handles are so long that they protrude above the top and the lid cannot fit over the container to retain the steam.
I have been to two cookware stores in two cities and have found no poacher that can be adjusted to become a steamer. It strikes me that somone should have designed a more flexible rack with handles.
The simplest and least elegant solution would be to shorten the handles so the rack could be raised higher and the lid still fit. I could of course cut the handles to size, but then the handles would not have the curved hook shape at the top that allows for easy removal. The other solution would be to raise the rack with ramekins, leave the handles in place and seal the vessel with heavy duty aluminum foil, but that strikes me as messy and cumbersome and not completely efficient. Someone should have solved this problem.
Recipes for steaming fish recommend keeping the steamer rack four inches about the liquid, that may be higher than necessary, but it is a distance worth achieving.
Has anyone seen a fish poacher that easily adjusts to become a steamer?