Quick & Flavorful Cantonese-Style Steamed Fish Delight

August 2, 2023

The joy of relishing the quick & flavorful Cantonese-style steamed fish plunges you right into the core of authentic Chinese culinary festivities. While it’s a celebrated highlight at wedding banquets, its splendid yet effortless charm also graces everyday meals, epitomizing pure culinary elegance.

Whether you have the ingredients lying around or need to make a quick grocery run, this dish is a breeze to whip up. Our family has perfected it over countless meals, and soon, it’ll become your go-to method for a delightful seafood treat.

The Perfect Steamed Fish Without Traditional Equipment

Wondering how to nail the steaming process without the classic wok or bamboo steamer? Fear not! Many opt for steam ovens or fancy steamers, but the trusty wok remains a versatile tool. If you’re lacking one, a large pot or deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid is all you need. Simply elevate your fish on a steaming rack or even an empty tuna can amidst 1-2 inches of water, and you’ve got a makeshift steamer ready to go!

How to Ensure Perfectly Steamed Fish Every Time

The beauty of steamed fish lies in its quick preparation. While a whole fish offers a traditional touch, fillets promise convenience. Boneless selections cook swiftly, but even they vary in cooking time based on size and thickness. Aim for the fish to be tender enough for a butter knife to glide through easily. It’s better to err on the side of caution, checking early and steaming further if required. Overcooking risks a tough texture, so stay vigilant!

Choosing Your Fish: Versatility at its Best

Chinese culinary enthusiasts often prefer a whole fish, valuing every part, from head to tail. However, if you’re aiming for ease, fillets are your best friends. Opt for fresh, delicate white fish varieties while steering clear of stronger, oily choices. Some top picks include:

  • Flounder or fluke
  • Sea bass
  • Haddock
  • Ocean perch
  • Grouper
  • Cod
  • Freshwater tilapia

Whether from a local fishmonger or the frozen aisle, freshness is key. Coastal dwellers have the luxury of indulging in fresh catches like fluke, flounder, or black seabass – perfect for this dish.

Pro Tips for the Ultimate Steamed Fish Experience

  1. For those who relish the harmonious blend of the fish with the aromatic sauce, feel free to increase the ingredient portions as desired.
  2. Larger fish fillets might demand proportional ingredient adjustments.
  3. The scallions and ginger play a dual role: both cooked and raw, to lend a layered flavor profile.
  4. The sequence of adding the raw aromatics can be pre or post-sauce, but if chosen post, an extra drizzle of hot vegetable oil can uplift the dish’s aroma and look.


  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tablespoons ginger
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce (or seasoned soy sauce)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 10-ounce fillet of a delicate white fish (choices listed above)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Steps to Flavorful Perfection:

  1. Prepare scallions and ginger by thinly julienning them. Roughly chop the cilantro and set these aside.
  2. Stir the soy sauce, salt, sugar, and hot water in a bowl until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Set up your steaming environment, bringing 1-2 inches of water to a boil.
  4. Clean the fish fillet and place it on a suitable heat-proof plate for steaming. Position inside the steamer, adjusting the heat to medium for a slow, steady boil.
  5. Cover and steam. Depending on the fillet size, this might range from 4-10 minutes. Use the butter knife test to check doneness.
  6. Once done, safely drain any excess liquid from the plate. Layer about a third of the prepped scallions, ginger, and cilantro on the fish.
  7. To craft the sauce, heat vegetable oil in a wok or saucepan. Fry the ginger briefly, add the white parts of the scallions, and then introduce the rest of the scallions and cilantro, ensuring a sizzling mix.
  8. Add the soy sauce mixture, letting the ingredients bubble and wilt for about 30 seconds.
  9. Pour this tantalizing blend over your fish. Depending on your aromatic sequence preference, now might be the time to sprinkle the remaining fresh ingredients, potentially sealing their freshness with an additional tablespoon of hot vegetable oil. Serve promptly and enjoy!

With this dish, not only do you get to experience a culinary treasure, but you also enjoy the health benefits of fish – rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vital proteins, and essential nutrients. Embrace this age-old recipe and bring the authentic flavors of Cantonese cuisine to your table.

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