The Lazy Cook: Chinese Steamed Fish

One of the simplest and purest ways in cooking fish is to just steam it. I grew up eating a lot of fish year round. A whole steamed fish is often associated with Chinese New Year as the Chinese word for fish, Yu, means abundance. Also anything associated with water is considered lucky in Chinese culture.
You can use a variety of fish for steaming like tilapia, cod, halibut, striped bass and yellowtail snapper.

- 1 whole fish (usually about 1-2 lbs). When you buy the fish, you can ask the counter person to help clean, degut and descale it for you. Also can ask them to slice open the fish at the belly if you don’t want to do this at home
- ½ cup of soy sauce (I use a mix of sweet and regular soy sauce)
- teaspoons of salt and sugar are optional
- ¼ cup of oil (we’ve gone fusion and have used oils like sunflower, vegetable olive, grapeseed, etc oils)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3-4 stalks scallions diced or julienned (divide the white and green parts)
- 1 small piece of ginger (1 inch or so) thinly sliced (can slice into matchstick strips if you julienned the scallions)

1) One last clean and dry the fish then transfer to a big enough plate, belly side down
2) Make 3-4 shallow diagonal slices on both sides of the fish
3) Stuff the cavity of the fish with the white cut part of the scallions and some of the ginger, and lightly season all over with the salt
4) In a shallow pot or wok, put in your steam or shallow rack, and add about 2 inches of water. Bring to boil then turn to medium to med-high heat
5) Place dish of fish into steamer or on rack
6) Steam for about 10-15 minutes until fish is cooked, opaque, and flakes easily with a fork
7) Remove the fish from the wok/pot
8) Mix and pour the remaining soy sauces and sesame oil over the fish and strew the remaining scallions and ginger on top
9) Heat oil in saucepan over high heat for about a minute then carefully pour the hot oil over the steamed fish

And that’s it! Easy, simple, and elegant!


  1. 17/07/12 at 18:26

    So glad you posted this recipe! I’ve never attempted Cantonese style fresh steamed whole fish and I would love to one day if I can find really fresh live fish. It’s so tasty and healthy too.

  2. Senses Inspired
    18/07/12 at 11:12

    So easy to do! And good to make if you’re having dinner with many guests

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