Chinese New Year

Ginger-Onion Whole Steamed Fish

February  9, 2018
1 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A key to any Chinese or Taiwanese feast, this steamed whole fish recipe has exactly 8 ingredients, which is auspicious for the Lunar New Year.

Featured In: Extra-Long Noodles Star in This Lucky, Scrumptious Lunar New Year FeastHsiao-Ching Chou

What You'll Need
  • 1 whole fish, such as striped bass, snapper, or rock fish (about 11⁄2 pounds), scaled and cleaned (ask the fishmonger to do this)
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 stalks green onions, cut into 3-inch segments, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely julienned fresh ginger, divided
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry Marsala wine
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Roughly chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  1. Set up your steamer over high heat.
  2. Score the fish, gently making three to four cuts along the body of the fish on both sides, starting from the dorsal n to the belly. The cuts should be deep enough that you can stuff them with some ginger and onions. Sprinkle the salt in the slits on both sides to help flavor the fish. Gently place half of the onions and 1⁄4 cup of the ginger into the slits.
  3. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine the soy sauce, wine, oil, and the remaining onions and 1⁄4 cup ginger. Heat to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Keep the sauce over low heat while the fish steams.
  4. Place the fish in a steam-proof dish, such as a pie plate, that fits in your steamer. The dish should be deep enough to let the sauce pool at the bottom. Steam the fish for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. To check for doneness, turn off the heat. Carefully lift the lid of the steamer. Using the tip of a sharp knife, gently probe the flesh at the meatiest part of the fish. If it is opaque and flakes, then the fish is done steaming. If it looks underdone, then close the lid and steam over high heat for up to 5 minutes more.
  5. Remove the dish from the steamer and drizzle the soy sauce mixture over the sh. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice as a part of a meal.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • FrugalCat
  • Basil and Roses
    Basil and Roses
  • Hsiao-Ching Chou
    Hsiao-Ching Chou
  • AntoniaJames
Hsiao-Ching Chou is the author of "Chinese Soul Food: A Friendly Guide for Homemade Dumplings, Stir-Fries, Soups and More." She lives in Seattle with her family. Text her cooking questions via her messaging service: 206-565-0033.

12 Reviews

weshook February 5, 2019
My dad would make this, but after steaming the fish, he would put the ginger, scallions and soy sauce on the fish and the pour sizzling hot oil over it.
FrugalCat March 4, 2018
I've made it twice now. Once with yellowtail snapper(caught by me!) and once with branzino (bought at fishmarket) It's also good to use rice wine vinegar instead of the wine.
MaddieF February 16, 2018
This recipe was delicious! I followed the ingredients but used a pressure cooker (I don't have a steamer) to cook the fish while the sauce simmered on the stovetop. I also didn't have any Shaoxing or dry Marsala wine so I used apple cider vinegar.
Basil A. February 14, 2018
Seems like a lovely recipe. How would you recommend making this if you don't have a steamer?
Hsiao-Ching C. February 20, 2018
You could bake this in the oven in a foil pouch. The timing would vary depending on the type of fish you got. It also doesn't have to be a whole fish. You could do fillets.
Basil A. February 20, 2018
Thank you, Hsiao-Ching Chou! I like the idea of the whole fish for a special family dinner. I was wondering if there is a way to "create" a steamer. I came across this which looks simple. Just need to make sure I find a "heat proof" plate. Happy cooking!
AntoniaJames February 20, 2018
Basil and Roses, I just came across that trick from Food & Wine the other day, in the book of "Mad Genius Kitchen" hacks, which I recommend for fun reading and a few good ideas, if you can get it at your library. (I wouldn't buy it . . . .) I'm going to try this recipe using that technique. I actually have a steamer, but am interested in the alternative for times when I'm not in my own kitchen . . . . ;o)
Basil A. February 20, 2018
Thank you, Antonia James for the recommendation! I will definitely check it out- pun intended :D
Hsiao-Ching C. February 20, 2018
Yes, that's the method to create a steamer. I actually offer this solution in my cookbook; it's just not referenced on Food52. :)
Basil A. February 20, 2018
Oh, nice! What is the name of your cookbook?
Hsiao-Ching C. February 20, 2018
Chinese Soul Food. These recipes were excerpted from the book. 😀
Basil A. February 21, 2018
Very nice, I would love to learn how to make some of your dumplings :D