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Steamed Whole Fish

Updated: Feb 20

Fish, Steamed fish, Chinese fish, Chinese New Year Fish
Steamed Whole Fish

In Chinese culture, fish is a symbol of abundance and prosperity. In Mandarin, fish is a homonym for abundance. The steamed whole fish dish is popular at Chinese New Year dinners. Fish choices in China include sea bass, grouper, and mandarin. Branzino or red snapper are great alternatives. You can also use fish fillet but whole fish means togetherness.


  • 1 whole fish 1 to 1.5 lb. Snapper, sea bass, branzino.

  • 4 scallions, cut them into 2-inch batons. Separate the white part and the green part.

  • 1 large knob of ginger. Cut 6 slices of ginger. For the rest, see step 5 below.

  • 1/4 red pepper

  • Seasoned soy sauce for seafood.

  • Vegetable oil

  • Shaoxing cooking wine

  • Salt


  1. Clean the fish. Fish shops will do the scaling, trimming, and gutting. Double-check when you get home. Wash fish in a few changes of water.

2. If the fish is on the larger side, make a few cuts on the back to cook evenly. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil on a steamer or a wok while preparing the other ingredients.

3. I prefer to open the bottom of the fish and let it steamed back facing up. Put 3 slices of ginger and 3 scallion batons (white part) on the plate that can fit in your steamer. And put the rest of the ginger slices and white part of scallions on top of the fish. If you prefer to steam the fish on one side, put 3 slices of ginger and scallion batons on the plate and the rest inside the fish (photo 3 below).

4. Add 1 pinch of salt and 1 Tbsp of Shaoxing cooking wine to the fish. When the water is boiling, transfer the fish to the steamer and steam fish for 8 to 10 minutes over high heat, covered.

5. Meanwhile, julienne red pepper, ginger, and scallions greens. Add cut scallions in cold water and rinse for 30 seconds to remove the pungent flavor, and the scallions will curl up.

6. Uncover the fish and remove the cooked ginger and scallions when the timer is up. Discard the water that was collected on the plate during steaming. Add julienned scallions, ginger, and red pepper to the fish.

7. Drizzle 3 Tbsp of seasoned soy sauce evenly on the fish. Heat 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil over high heat. When the oil starts smoking, pour hot oil on top of the aromatics.

8. Enjoy!

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