Chinese Steamed Fish

I am so excited to share with you this beloved recipe for fresh steamed fish, especially to all you seafood lovers out there! This is hands down a family favorite in our household and is an impressive dish that is effortless to make.

Because we live in San Diego, we are fortunate to have access to fresh seafood every weekend at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market in downtown. It’s a real treat to drive down and meet all the local fisherman and see their catch of the day. Plus the fish are a lot cheaper than the grocery store and more importantly a lot FRESHER!

My husband and I love to get the black cod because of it’s buttery and delicate flesh…and because it’s also quite cheap setting you back $7.00/lb which is a steal compared to Canada where it use to cost me $35/lb for a frozen vacuum sealed filet! Anyways, last weekend we took another trip to the fish market and unfortunately due to rough waters there were no black cod this time around. So instead we decided to try whitefish instead which the vendor said was similar to rock fish in texture and taste. It doesn’t really matter the type of fish you get as long as it is fresh. In the past we have tried this recipe with sea bass we bought live from our local Asian grocery store and it also works just fine.

Now the most important things about this recipe are the following:

  1. The fish must be super fresh or from live if possible or else you will be left with a very fish muddy tasting dish no one wants.
  2. You must use soy sauce for seafood, now this special soy sauce is not like your regular kind because it already comes already seasoned and is very different in taste. It’s a little sweeter and has some additional things added that really make it go well with seafood so please don’t skimp on this key ingredient. The brand I like to get is by Lee Kum Kee you can find at your local Asian grocery store or from the online link I provided.
  3. Lastly, the oil you pour on top must be hot! You can use any neutral oil like canola, corn, or safflower oils but NOT strong tasting oils like olive oil because the oil is there to carry the flavor of the ginger and green onions into the sauce.
  4. Do not over cook your fish, about 12 min for a 2 lb fish is perfect but you can always adjust and add a minute or 2 if your fish is a bit larger. You can tell it’s ready when the eyes turn white and the flesh is opaque and slightly curled.

This dish is a classic in Cantonese cooking and what I like about it is that because it’s simple in preparation and flavors you can really enjoy and taste the natural aroma of the fish itself. When you cook fish this way it retains it’s delicate and buttery flaky texture that is so irresistible! I like to eat this with a nice bowl of rice and scoop some of the gravy onto the rice. Man the thought of this is making me hungry again! Be sure to give this recipe a try the next time you have yourself a nice piece of fresh fish!

Chinese Steamed Fish

Prep time: 3 min     
Cook time: 12 min    
Total time: 15 min   
Servings: 4


  • 1 whole fresh whitefish or black cod or sea bass (2 lb)
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 inch ginger
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce for seafood
  • 5 tbsp oil


  1. Prepare the garnish by thinly slicing ginger and green onions into matchstick sized pieces and place aside.
  2. Clean the fish by removing the scales and any innards under running water. Trim the tail and side fins.
  3. Place the fish on a steaming plate and put on 3-4 slices of ginger and green onions on top.
  4. Bring a large steamer to rolling boil and place the fish inside to cook for 12 min.
  5. After steaming carefully drain the liquid on the plate and transfer the fish to a new clean plate. Place sliced green onions and ginger on top of the fish and drizzle with the soy sauce for seafood.
  6. In a small pan, heat oil until very hot and almost smoking then quickly pour over the fish and garnishes.
  7. Immediately serve the fish hot with a nice bowl of rice. Enjoy!

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