Chinese Steamed Fish

Another dish that I made for Ben’s family was my Chinese Steamed Fish. I love this dish for its simplicity, and comforting Chinese flavours.

There are a few ways to cook this steamed fish:

  1. Steaming it – but you need a massive wok and the grill thing that sits on top, or perhaps you can try a massive steamer basket. I don’t have either of those things, and the fish I usually buy are pretty large. If you were going to just do fillets, then I think the wok or steamer are practical.
  2. In the BBQ – use the same wrapping method detailed below, and pop it into the BBQ and shut the lid to create an oven-like environment. The problem with this method is that it’s kind of annoying to keep checking the fish in the BBQ.
  3. In the oven – which is how I did it. I just liked the convenience of having it in the oven, and then on my bench to check it. I know that calling it steamed fish is probably a misnomer, but it is effectively being steamed in the oven.

In my recipe I have specified the weight of the snapper. Do not be overly concerned with that weight. It could be a 3kg fish, and you’d still use the same proportions of the other ingredients. Use your instincts, if you feel like you want more sauce, then add more soy sauce and shao xing wine.

Also, I personally like to use Snapper for this recipe, but it will also work well with ocean trout, tilapia, barramundi, ling and any number of other white fish. The ones I have just mentioned are what I would personally recommend. Get your local fishmonger to gut, clean and scale your fish for you, but be sure to leave the heads on, you don’t want to miss out on that scrumptious fish cheek meat.

Serves: 4 people

Prep-time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


1kg snapper, cleaned, scaled and gutted

1 tsp minced ginger paste

4 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp shao xing wine

4cm fresh ginger, finely julienned (like hair)

4 stalk spring onion, cut finely on extreme diagonal, place in ice water so that it curls

3 tbsp peanut oil


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Prepare large piece of aluminium foil. Place large piece of baking paper on top of the aluminium foil.
  3. In a small bowl make a mixture of the minced ginger paste, soy sauce and shao xing wine.
  4. Score 3 lines to the bone on either side of the snapper, and place in the centre of the baking paper. Pour ginger, 3 tbsp light soy sauce and 2 tbsp shao xing over both sides of the fish. Gather the ends of the aluminium foil and baking paper and enclose the fish – sort of en papillote. Place snapper in oven for 20-25 minutes. If fish is not pink and translucent, then it is cooked. Remove from oven. Remove aluminium foil and baking paper, and place on large serving plate (discard cooking sauce and juices).
  5. Pour over 1 tbsp light soy sauce and 1 tbsp shao xing wine the fish, and set aside.
  6. Remove spring onions from cold water.
  7. Heat peanut oil in a hot wok till smoking.
  8. Sprinkle fish with spring onions and shredded ginger then slowly pour hot oil over fish to crisp the skin up and scald the aromatics.
  9. Garnish generously with sprigs of coriander. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

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