Steamed Fish

A quick and easy method to prepare healthy and delicious Cantonese steamed fish. Fresh white fish is best-suited for this recipe. You can have it all year round as this recipe is simple to prepare even after a hard day at work.

5 stars

Preparation 15 mins
Cooking 25 mins


Cantonese Steamed Fish

Malaysian, Singaporean

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Nutrition per Serving

385 kcal
39 g
17 g
21 g

In many Chinese families, steamed fish are always listed top of their most cooked recipes. Steamed fish with ginger and spring onions is one of the easiest and best steamed fish recipe available. There are many reasons why steaming the fish is preferred over other methods of cooking. Firstly, it is much healthier and secondly, most of the nutrients of the fish are retained. Ensure that the fish is fresh, of course!

Tips for authentic gravy

The main flavour to the gravy is the soy sauce and the hint of sweetness which comes along with it. Using Chinese light soy sauce would be the best. Additionally, the gravy is sweetened with rock sugar as it is very subtle in sweetness. Although you may substitute it with regular sugar, the sweetness of the rock sugar goes well with this steamed fish gravy.

What type of fish should I steam?

In the video, I used Seabass but if you prefer other types of fishes, I would recommend that you choose white fish like cod, grouper or bream. Fishes like salmon can be used but it does have a stronger taste to it.

Why is the fish meat tough after steaming?

Despite being a fairly easy dish to prepare, the flesh of the fish will be tough if it is steamed for too long. Depending on the size and thickness of the fish, steaming a fish normally takes around 10 to 18 minutes. Use a chopstick to poke through the fish and if it is possible to do so without any resistance, the fish is ready.

Steaming fish fillet instead

Instead of steaming the whole fish, you may use fish fillet which will work just the same. I enjoy using thick cod fillet which works well with all steamed fish recipes such as Cantonese steamed fish or Teochew steamed fish.

Is there a non-alcoholic substitute for Shaoxing wine?

Unfortunately, there is none. 'Shaoxing' wine is added for its sweetness. While most would use some apple juice as a substitute, I strongly advise against it. Apple juice will spoil the taste of the dish, making it slightly tart in taste. If you do not want to have alcohol in this recipe, simply omit it as the main flavour in the gravy comes from the soy sauce.

Why is fish served during Chinese New Year?

It is considered auspicious to have fish served during the reunion dinner, which takes place a day before Chinese New Year as the pronunciation of fish in Chinese (“Yu”) sounds similar to the word surplus. Hence, having a whole fish to begin the year signifies the start of a new year with surplus and abundance.


6 cm
2 1⁄2
1 tbsp
shaoxing wine
2 tbsp
2 tbsp
soy sauce
1 tbsp
1 tsp
white pepper
sesame oil
fresh chilli (red)

Steps to Prepare

Steamed Fish Step 1

Step 1 of 4

    • 1 fish
    • 3 cm ginger
    • 2 scallions
    • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine

Rinse the fish and use a paper towel to pat it dry. Place fish on a plate and put ginger pieces and spring onions on and underneath the fish to get rid of the fishy smell. Pour Shaoxing wine on the fish.

Steamed Fish Step 2

Step 2 of 4

Steam fish for 10 minutes. After that, remove the ginger slices and spring onions. Drain excess water and continue to steam for a further 10 minutes.

Steamed Fish Step 3

Step 3 of 4

    • 2 tbsp oil

Heat up oil and pour onto the fish. This will give the fish a beautiful shine.

Steamed Fish Step 4

Step 4 of 4

    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • white pepper
    • sesame oil
    • 1 fresh chilli (red)
    • 1⁄2 scallions
    • 3 cm ginger

Using the same pan, add soy sauce and give it a quick stir. Turn the heat to medium-low and add water. Add sugar, white pepper and sesame oil. Allow gravy to simmer and once it starts to boil, turn off the stove. Pour gravy onto the fish. Garnish with fresh slices of ginger, spring onion and chillies.

Published: February 9, 2013

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