Steamed Fish – Cantonese Style

Here is a simple recipe my friend and fellow Chef Joko Winarto shared with me. His very skilled at steaming fish but I am kind of knew to it. That being said, this has a pretty straight forward process and it lets me use my Wok and bamboo steamer, so yeah!

This is a Cantonese style dish, which usually means its a little lighter than Mandarin style. It usually also balances between sweet, sour, and spicy, so you will notice the ingredient list includes sugar, ginger and spices. Fish is a delicate dish to steam, too little and it’s undercooked with a sashimi texture and too much it gets rubbery.

Keep in mind when steaming at altitude that water boils (steams) at a lower temperature. At my elevation (6,700 ft), water boils 10 deg. C. cooler than sea level, which means that steaming times have to be increased.


  • 1 medium sized fish fillet – walleye is best, but flounder or fluke okay
  • 2 TBL oil – with high smoke point, like canola
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 TBL ginger (julienned)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1.5 TBL Soy sauce (or seasoned soy sauce)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 2 TBL water


  1. Mise en Place – measure and prepare your ingredients before starting.
    • Julienne the scallions and ginger and set aside. FYI, julienne means cut into thin strips.
    • Chop cilantro into a medium size dices. Keep in mind that the stems are more powerful than the leaves but the leaves look better at plating.
    • Mix soy sauce, salt, sugar and water into a small bowl.
  2. If you have two Woks, set one up for steaming the fish and the other for preparing the sauce. If you only have one Wok, steam the fish first.
  3. Steam Fish
    • Fill your wok or saucepan with about an inch of water, cover and bring it to a boil. Carefully place fillet on the steamer. Cover and steam for about 10 minutes. To check for doneness, if a butter knife cuts through to the bottom of the rack, your fish is done.
  4. Plate fillet:
    1. Transfer fish from steamer to your serving plate.
    2. Spread the cilantro and about one third of the scallions (green portions), directly onto the steamed fish
  5. Make Sauce
    1. Heat your second Wok (or a small saucepan) to medium-high heat and add 2 TBL of canola oil.
    2. Add the ginger and let it brown lightly, about a minute.
    3. Add remaining scallions.
    4. Add the soy sauce mixture to the saucepan.
    5. Cook until scallions are wilted ~30 seconds.
    6. Remove from heat and spoon entire mixture over the fish.

Serve with rice. Using black rice makes a nice plating, but you also can’t go wrong with Basmati rice, or my favorite, jasmine rice.