cantonese-style steamed fish

Cantonese-Style Steamed Fish

For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite dishes growing up was Cantonese-style steamed fish. However, the only time I was able to have a taste of it was during Chinese wedding banquets or any big event where we were in a fancy Chinese seafood restaurant.

Needless to say, I never thought that I would be making this dish some day.

The sauce in this Cantonese-style steamed fish includes a mix of ginger and soy sauce topped with cilantro and scallions. Doesn’t that make you salivate already? Personally, I think the ginger is the key to this dish and so I like to add in just a little bit more than what is called for in the recipe.

What got me super excited about this recipe is that it is super easy to make, with most ingredients probably already available in your pantry. All you need to buy is the fish!

If you are not comfortable about the idea of steaming a whole fish, this recipe works just as well for fish fillet. It took me a while to find the courage to handle raw fish, but once I did, it was so worth it!

So, without further adieu, here is the recipe for Cantonese-Style Steamed Fish.

Cantonese-Style Steamed Fish Recipe


  • 1 whole sea bass (cleaned)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, julienned
  • 2 scallions or green onions, julienned with green and white parts separated)
  • 8 sprigs fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil (plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • fresh ground white pepper to taste


  1. Steam the fish. To do this, I used a metal steamer such as this and just placed the fish straight on the rack. Another option is to use a wok with a perforated steaming rack such as this and place a heat-proof plate with the fish on top.
  2. Steam the fish for about 9 minutes and turn off the heat. While the fish is steaming, combine the water, salt, sugar, soy sauce and white pepper in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  3. After 9 minutes, use a butter knife and gently insert it into the thickest part of the fish. If the knife goes through to the bottom of the pan, the fish is done! Also pay attention to the meat of the fish, it should be opaque, but the bone should be slightly translucent and not fully cooked.
  4. Transfer the fish to a serving plate and spread half of the ginger, the green part of the scallion, and the cilantro over the fish. Note, if you steamed your fish on a plate, carefully pour off all the liquid that accumulated on the plate from steaming before placing the ginger, scallion, and cilantro. Set the fish aside.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and the other half of ginger. When the ginger begins to sizzle, add the soy sauce mixture and heat until it starts to simmer again.
  6. Once it starts to simmer, add the rest of the oil and white portions of the scallion. Stir the mixture until the liquid begins to simmer and sizzle again. Spoon the entire mixture evenly over the fish and serve hot.

Recipe adapted from The Woks of Life.

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