Juicy fish fillets in a mouthwatering sweet soy sauce, topped with aromatic ginger, scallions, cilantro and sizzling oil.
Total carbs 2g
Many Chinese dim sum restaurants serve this dish using whole fish. It is served family-style. I love making this dish at home because at home I can add all the aromatic ginger, scallions and cilantro that I want. I can also control the amount of sugar in the sauce, since restaurants tend to use more sugar in their sauces.
If you've never tried steamed fish before, it may sound strange to you, but trust me it is delicious! Steaming is much like poaching, as the fish cooks in its own juices. This is a quick and easy way to prepare fish.
Ingredients you'll need
fresh fish fillets
To keep it simple, this recipe uses fillets so that you don't have to mess around with skins, fins and bones. You can use fresh or frozen fish fillets that have been thawed.
Estimate one fillet per serving. Choose firm white-fleshed sea fish such as sea bass, red snapper, or flounder.
water for steaming
The steamed fillets are sauced with a mixture of sugar and soy sauce.
The fillets are topped with shredded fresh scallions and ginger over which hot oil is poured to release the aromas.
You may garnish this dish with sprigs of fresh cilantro, if you like. I love cilantro with this dish. Not everybody loves cilantro. It is totally optional.
Equipment you’ll need
You'll need a steamer with a basket, but no worries, if you don't have those keep reading for instructions on how to assemble a steamer with what you have.
How to assemble a steamer with what you have
If you don't have a steamer and basket, you can assemble one out of a large pot with a lid.
Place a small plate, or empty tuna can, upside-down in the center of a pot. Pour an inch of water into the pot. Then place the plate holding the fish fillets on top of the small plate and cover the pot with a lid. Bring water to a boil.
How to select fish 🐟
It is best if you can pick out a whole fish and have the fish monger fillet it for you. At the fish market look for:
- Eyes 👀 that are crystal clear, plump, moist, bulging, and bright. Don’t buy fish if the eyes are sunken or cloudy.
- Gills that are clean and bright pink or red. Gills should not be slimy or dark and bloody.
- Fins should be wet and whole.
- Flesh should be wet, slippery and resilient when 👉🏼 poked. No visible ice or blood.
- Scent 👃🏼 should be mild, not fishy or bad. Life tip 😉 don’t eat food that smells bad to you.
These are all indicators that the fish is fresh.
If you need help figuring out which fish are safe and sustainable to eat, seafoodwatch.org is a great resource for navigating seafood choices.
How long should you steam fish?
Thin fillets should only take 5 minutes to cook through until flaky. Thicker fillets may take a couple of minutes longer.
How to tell when fish is done
The flesh should easily flake apart with no resistance. When fish is done it becomes opaque and flaky. Poke a fork or chopsticks into the thickest part of the fish and try to flake it apart. It should flake readily. If not, cook it a little more. Be careful not to overcook the fish or it becomes hard, dry and tasteless.
Plate the fish
Use a spatula to transfer the steamed fish to a clean serving platter before garnishing with aromatics, sizzling oil and sauce.
Scatter ginger and scallions over the center of the fish as a garnish. Arrange them over the center so that it is easier to drizzle hot oil over the aromatics.
Heat oil in the small frying pan. Test if the oil is hot by placing a piece of ginger in the oil. When the ginger sizzles, the oil is ready. Drizzle the hot oil over the ginger and scallions to wilt them and release their aroma. 🔥🔥🔥
Lastly, pour sweet soy sauce around the base of the fish.
Serve this with a side of greens, like bok choy, sautéed with crispy garlic and a third of a cup of brown rice.Print
This delicious method of preparing fish results in juicy fillets in a mouthwatering sweet soy sauce, garnished with aromatic ginger, scallions and cilantro and topped with sizzling oil.
- 4 fillets (4 ounces each) of firm white-fleshed sea fish such as sea bass, red snapper, tilapia, or flounder
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- water for steaming
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons mild-flavored high temperature oil like grape seed oil or canola oil
- 3 scallions, finely shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely shredded (plus 12 slices ginger for steaming with fillets)
- a handful of fresh cilantro sprigs
- Rinse fillets under cold, running water, then rub each fillet with a pinch of salt. Place the fish in a steamer. Add an inch of water to the pot (about up to the first knuckle of your pointer finger).
- Place 3 slices of ginger over each fillet (this flavors the steam). Cover pot with a lid. Bring water to a boil and steam for 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix soy sauce with sugar.
- After 5 minutes, turn the heat off and check if the fish is done. Timing will depend on the thickness of the fillets. Remove the lid and look at the fish. Fish is done when it becomes opaque and flaky. Poke the thickest part of the fish with a chopstick or fork. The flesh should easily flake apart with no resistance. It should flake readily. If not, put the lid back on and let it steam a few more minutes.
- When the fish is done use a fish spatula (a long slotted spatula) to carefully transfer fillets to the center of a clean serving platter. Discard fish liquid and cooked ginger.
- Scatter ginger and scallions over the center of the fish as a garnish. Arrange them over the center so that it is easier to drizzle hot oil over the aromatics.
- Heat oil in a small frying pan over high heat until smoking. Test if the oil is hot by placing a piece of ginger in the oil. When the ginger sizzles, the oil is ready. Slowly pour hot oil over scallions and ginger to wilt them and release their aroma. Top with cilantro sprigs.
- Pour sauce around the base of the fish.
Don't try to use the fishy steam water that collects in the fish steaming plate, throw it out. It is fishy and unpalatable.
Alternatively, you can flash fry the ginger and scallions with the soy sauce in the hot oil and pour it over the fish for a deeper flavored sauce.
If you don't have a steamer basket, then you can assemble one. Place a sturdy small heatproof bowl or empty tuna can in the center of a large pot. Pour an inch of water into the pot. Set a plate over the bowl. Place the fillets on the plate.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Steam
- Cuisine: American