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Steamed Fish, Chinese Style

2 main  
1 hr  
An entirely delectable (and easy) way to cook light or moderately flavored fish. Steaming fish in an open dish with simple seasonings is typically Chinese. The dish the fish is steamed in becomes the serving dish and steam that condenses in the dish become part of the sauce.


Fish, whole (1)  
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil, dark
Rice Wine (2)
Prep   -   (35 min - 15 min work (not counting cleaning the fish))
  1. Scale and clean FISH. Make shallow diagonal cuts on both sides, just through the skin, three or four depending on fish shape and about 3/4 inch apart. Rub the Fish inside and out with SALT.
  2. Peel GINGER as needed and slice thin. Cut the slices into thin slivers. Crush SCALLIONS moderately with your kitchen mallet and cut into 1 inch lengths. Mix with Ginger.
  3. Stuff Fish with 1/2 the Ginger / Scallion mix. Set it out on the dish it will be steamed in, which should be 3/4 inch to 1 inch deep.
  4. Sprinkle fish with SOY SAUCE, then SESAME OIL. Spread the rest of the Ginger / Scallion mix over the fish. Let marinade at room temperature for 20 minutes or in the refirgerator for 1 to 2 hours if you're working ahead.
Run   -   (15 min)
  1. Sprinkle the RICE WINE around the fish and place the dish in the steamer (Note-3). Make sure it's level so the sauce is well distributed. Bring the water to a boil with the steamer open. This limits the amount of water that condenses into the dish. Once it's boiling, cover tightly and steam at a moderate boil for about 20 minutes.
  2. Serve in the steaming dish with the sauce that has been produced there, or serve on separate dishes and ladle sauce over. You can remove the ginger and scallions if you wish, they are not eaten.
  1. Fish:   Weight given is for a Pompano, before cleaning and with head on. Use your own best judgement for other fish, and whether they are steamed with head on or off. Basically, they have to fit in the steamer. Select a fish with little to moderate skin shrinkage for most attractive results. Fillets are also steamed by this method. My favorite is Pompano (photo), which has no skin shrink at all, but I've also made it with a pair of individual size sea bass, golden thread and others. The shown pompano was 1 pound. beyond 1-1/2 pounds you'd probably need to remove the head and/or tail.
  2. Rice Wine:   Use a good, drinkable Chinese rice wine, not that horrid salted "cooking" version. If you don't have this, use a Dry Sherry. Sake is made from rice but is not considered a good substitute. For details see our Chinese Rice Wine page.
  3. Steamer:   A wok with a low steamer grid and a high domed cover is perfect for this. See Photos.
  4. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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