Flavors of ginger, cilantro and green onion make this light and easy Cantonese steamed fish a standout dish for a quick weeknight dinner, or the perfect side for a full Chinese meal.
Post originally shared in May of 2016. Updated July, 2017.
Moment of truth – I’ve always been kind of intimidated to cook Asian food! The unique (to me) ingredients, sauces, and techniques scared me away! :-/
Hooray-Hooray, my friend Susan Ng, from Susan’s Savour-It, has come to my rescue with a series of wonderfully tasty, easy to prepare, and not-intimidating Chinese recipes for the upcoming cookbook. Thank you, Susan!
This particular recipe is for a super simple, flavor filled, steamed fish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer or entree. Susan tells me that Cantonese cuisine is not complete without a dish of steamed fish, usually done whole and served in an oval dish. Opting to use frozen fish fillets, as she has done in this version, is convenient, just as delicious, and a cinch to prepare with no fish skin and bones to contend with at the table!
- 3 frozen white fish fillets (about 1 pound total), thawed overnight in the refrigerator, drained and patted dry – use basa, cod, rockfish, or any firm, white fish you like
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (substitute dry sherry if Chinese cooking wine is unavailable)
- A few dashes of ground white pepper (feel free to substitute regular black pepper, it will just leave little black flakes that might not look quite as pretty)
- 3 – ⅛ inch slices of ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchstick strips
- 2 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces, then cut vertically into thin silken strips
- 4 sprigs of cilantro, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral flavored, high heat oil
- 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup seasoned soy sauce for seafood (if you can’t find seasoned soy sauce for seafood make your own mixture with 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine, 1 tablespoon water, and 1 teaspoon brown sugar)
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- Pour an inch of water in a wide skillet with a well fitting lid. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat until just simmering.
- Cut the fish fillets into 2 to 3 inch pieces. Lay the pieces on a heat-proof plate that will fit easily inside the skillet (this same plate can be used for serving, if you like), or a steamer insert. Drizzle the cooking wine over top, sprinkle with white pepper, and scatter over ginger strips. Place the plate or steamer insert into the skillet or pot with the simmering water, cover with the lid, and steam until the fish is flakey and almost opaque throughout. The time this takes will vary significantly depending on the thickness of your fish – anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes. Carefully remove the plate or steamer insert, discarding the water and ginger strips. It will continue cooking after it’s removed from the heat, so be sure to pull it from its steamy pan when the center still has a touch of translucency.
- If using a steamer insert, move the fish to a serving plate. Scatter the onions and cilantro over the fish.
- Heat the canola oil in a small skillet until just beginning to smoke. Carefully pour the hot oil over the steamed fish. Sparingly drizzle everything with the seasoned soy sauce and sesame oil.
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