Chinese steamed whole fish is a popular dish you see on a Chinese table, usually served during festive seasons and on special occasions, such as during Chinese New Year.
A properly steamed whole fish is typically served with shredded ginger, scallions, chopped cilantro leaves and soy sauce. Many whole fish recipes vary in preparation and cooking methods, depending on where you are in Asia.
This also depends on the types of fish readily available, the water conditions and the local cooking culture.
When cooking sea fish, marinating is not needed, and the fish can be steamed directly over the highest heat. However, for freshwater fish, it’s recommended to marinate the fish with salt, cooking wine and aromatics to remove the freshwater smell.
Steamed fish goes well with white rice, especially when it is drizzled with the soy sauce on top!
- 1 (1 1/2-pound) whole sea bass, branzino, or flounder, cleaned with head and tail intact
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 2 scallion, white and light green parts only, julienned
- 8 cilantro sprigs, chopped
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- Fresh ground white pepper to taste
- Remove all the scales from the fish using a knife, focusing on the belly, the top edges, near the fins and the fish head. Then, proceed to cut off the fins carefully.
- Check and see if there are any gills left. If there are any, remove them with kitchen shears. The head of the fish should also be rinsed clean with water. Alternatively, you can ask a fishmonger to clean the fish for you before you bring it home.
- After cleaning the fish, rinse it again and shake off any excess water before placing it on a nice plate for steaming. At this stage, no seasoning should be added on the fish.
- Steam the fish over boiling water for 7 to 8 minutes, then turn off the heat.
- Pour out all the excess liquid that has accumulated on the plate after steaming.
- Spread the shredded ginger, scallions, and cilantro over the fish.
- Heat the oil and half of the ginger. Then add in water, salt, sugar, white pepper and soy sauce until the mixture starts to simmer.
- Then add the white scallions into the mixture and simmer again.
- Pour the sauce over the fish and enjoy!
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