Steamed Fish Recipe (Chinese Steamed Fish)
March 04th, 2009 87 Comments

Steamed Fish Recipe (Chinese Steamed Fish)

Chinese Steamed Fish

(Chinese recipes, prepare authentic Chinese food now!)

I love Chinese-style steamed fish–fresh-from-the-tank live fish steamed with soy sauce and topped with shredded ginger, scallions, and cilantro leaves. To me, nothing tastes as satisfying as steamed fish with white rice, drizzled with the soy sauce from the steamed fish. Sometimes, I can just eat bowls and bowls of white rice with the soy sauce. Chinese steamed fish is just so delicious!

I am going to be biased on this: I personally think that fish is best eaten steamed. (Yes, sashimi and sushi lovers, you can protest now). It’s mostly a personal preference; I love the texture of a perfectly steamed fish–the flesh is tender, silky, and oh-so-delicate.  Certain kind of fish is highly priced for its exceptional steamed texture, for example: my favorite “Soon Hock” fish, a fresh water fish commonly found in Malaysia. To me, the best part of steamed fish is the two pieces of fish cheek. The slightly chewy texture of fish cheeks is simply divine.

As simple as it might seem, making a perfect Chinese-style steamed fish takes a lot of techniques and skills. I am very fortunate to have learned the secret recipe and tricks from a Cantonese chef that would turn your plain steamed fish to Chinese-restaurant worthy. As you can see from the picture above, my steamed red cod (红斑鱼) looks like it’s straight from Shang Palace.

Secret Techniques for Restaurant-style Chinese Steamed Fish

  1. Fresh fish; preferably alive and swimming in a tank.
  2. 8-10 minutes steaming time. 8 minutes for a smaller fish or 10 minutes for a bigger fish. Use your best judgment, and don’t forget to set your kitchen alarm.
  3. Discard the fishy and cloudy fish “water” after steaming. Contrary to common belief, it doesn’t add  flavors to a steamed fish dish. If any, it will leave a bitter–from the fish guts if the fish was not cleaned properly–and fishy taste.
  4. Rock sugar. Wonder why the soy sauce is so good that you can just eat plain steamed rice with the soy sauce mixture?  Rock sugar is the secret.
  5. Use oil. Heat up some oil in your wok and pour it over the fish before adding the soy sauce. It gives your steamed fish that perfect sheen before you top it with the soy sauce mixture.

If you love Chinese recipes and wish to make more Chinese-style recipes, head over to my Chinese recipes category to learn more.

Below is my steamed fish recipe. Enjoy!

Click Page 2 for the Steamed Fish Recipe (Chinese Steamed Fish) Recipe
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87 comments... read them below or add one

  1. nimrod says:

    Hi, this recipe is fantastic. I tried it with Grouper and Pomfret and it was just delicious. However, I only used 1/2 of the amount for the rock sugar, felt that 2 tablespoons of rock sugar is a lot. Please keep the recipes coming, I’m a fan of yours now! (Also Malaysian :P)

    • enbeuu says:

      over the years, i’ve used Stella Chan’s technique in her book (Out of print) but found on Amazon. I ran out of the bottle of Chinese soy sauce…and don’t know which brand to get again. and have not used the rock sugar mentioned in this one.
      Personally don’t think sweet soy flavors are desired in this dish; but that might be heresy to some.

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  3. Mui says:

    I would like someone suggest a nice soya sauce, sesame oil and black vinegar sauce. I live in uk, not always can find the brand I want….

  4. Yen Yen Lio says:

    I have made this dish countless of times using the recipe provided.
    My husband and son just can’t get enough of it. It is so delicious!
    Thanks for the recipe :)

  5. Thanks u solved my problem on steamed fish cooking

  6. Jen says:

    Hi, what is the alternative for rock sugar??

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  8. Eve says:

    Whats the alternative for rice wine? Can hua tiao jiu do the job too?

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  10. Devin says:

    Rasa Malaysia, I was wondering if you’ve tried Ponzu instead of the soy sauce? I plan to experiment later this week.

  11. DanS says:

    Bookmarked this page! Will try this recipe!
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Cindy says:

    Tried this tonight with half a parrot fish my parents gave me and it was great! Thanks!

  13. Char says:

    My husband’s Malaysian relatives are here in Australia on holiday staying with us, so this recipe was the perfect solution for Christmas lunch in summer. Thanks Beee

  14. venessa says:

    This recipe is a keeper….absolutely delish. Hubby loves it. Glad I have all the ingredients. Will be making this again :)

  15. Sharon says:

    I’ve tried this recipe and my husband loves it.
    What soy sauce brand did you use? I used Yeos. It was good but thinking to improve the recipe further by trying other sauces.

  16. William says:

    I travel to china often for business. This is my favorite dish when I am there. I just purchased my first wok. How do I steam fish with it?

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