#1 Favorite Chinese Steamed Whole Fish by Sy

Total Time
Prep 30 mins
Cook 15 mins

Steamed whole fresh fish is one of the best liked of all Cantonese Chinese dishes. One of my favorite sauces to go along with steamed fish is a "Ginger and Scallion Sauce." Serve this simple and flavorful dish with plain white rice and a side dish of fresh green chinese vegetables topped with Oyster Sauce.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • FISH

  • 1 -1 12 lb fresh fish, with the head and tail on (scales removed and insides cleaned -- I prefer CHINESE SEA BASS)
  • 2 scallions, cleaned and trimmed
  • Chinese rice wine (not Japanese)

  • 18 cup peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 slices gingerroot, cut into very thin strips
  • 2 scallions, cleaned and trimmed, then cut on a diagonal and into thin strips 1 inch in length
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or 2 tablespoons regular soya sauce (not the dark soya sauce)


  1. Clean and scale the fish and remove the insides, however, leave the head and tail on.
  2. Rinse under cold water and then pat dry.
  3. Place the fish in an oblong oven proof/microwave proof dish and add a little rice wine to both sides.
  4. After 5 minutes, remove the wine.
  5. Place two whole scallions under the fish to prop the fish up, which will allow steam to flow underneath.
  6. STEAMING THE FISH: Place water in a large wok and using a flat round trivet on top of the wok, bring water to a boil.
  7. Place the fish plate on the trivet and cover.
  8. Steam the fish for about 10-15 minutes, use a fork to poke the flesh of the fish to see that it is done (It should be white and not translucent, don't overcook).
  9. Remove the fish plate from the wok, pour off the cloudy liquid, discard the scallions and then place the plate in the kitchen sink.
  10. (Why? Cause when you pour hot oil over the fish, it will splatter all over).
  11. As an alternative for steaming, put plastic wrap over the fish plate and then into the microwave oven.
  12. Microwave on high for about 5-6 minutes; check for doneness as noted above, and pour off the cloudy liquid and discard the scallions.
  13. Sprinkle the fish with pepper& salt.
  14. Spread over the fish the scallions and ginger strips.
  15. In a small frying pan add the peanut& sesame oil and heat just to smoking.
  16. Then pour smoking oil over the fish, be careful with the oil splattering.
  17. Next add the soya sauce.
  18. Serve hot with white rice and chinese vegetables toped with oyster sauce!
Most Helpful

I was intrigued both by the cooking method and the use of the hot oil, so I had to try it. It came out excellently! I followed the directions exactly except I used a regular steamer basket (with the handle thingy removed) splayed out flat inside the wok with the fish on it. Worked perfectly. I used whole tilapia. My only complaint, if you can even call it a complaint, is the oil was a little too heavy for me, so next time I will probably use a little less. I'll definitely be making this again. Thanks!
P.S. The steaming produces a rich fish broth in the bottom of the wok. I bottled it and will use in the next recipe that calls for fish broth or fish stock. Yum!

Goody2shz January 22, 2013

I improvised quite a bit because I did not have many of the listed ingredients. Ground seasme and peanuts and heated them in the veg oil, used the pollock I had, used a cooking sherry for maranating. I enjoyed the simplicity of the recipe and from what turned out I can imagine the actual cooked recipe. Skipper/Sy took the time and thoughtfulness to share the recipie with me so I was in a quick hurry to try it as an acknowledgement of the gift received. I placed the fish on the black rice which had a nutty flavour so it lent some substance to the prepared very light flavoured fish recipie. I enjoyed it and will scout around for the ingredients listed and make it again. I could not stand the fish up so I placed a cake rack in the pan and steamed the fish lying down. In my experience I will make more sauce to pour over. I follwed the steps quickly so the steam could permiate the scallion and ginger and meld the flavour into the fish. Chinese food requires the skill of quickness to prevent over cooking which comes with practice. I have a way to go to master it. But in all I enjoyed what I improvised with enough to want to make it again. Delicate flavour.

reya doucette August 09, 2011

I made this fish for my hubby and my son and they loved it! I am not a big fish fan but did have a few bites and it was alright, I used tilapia which is a mild fish. I didn't give this recipe 5 stars because I thought the directions on how to steam it was a bit confusing. I just steamed mine in a steamer basket over pot of water and had no problems. I also think that next time I do this recipe I will grate my ginger to get more flavor out of it. Overall family enjoyed it and its healthier than deep frying, thanks for sharing

Chef BJ in Ramstein Germany October 21, 2009