Whole Steamed Snapper with Ginger & Spring Onion


Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

This is simpler than you think; you can buy any whole fish you like and treat it in this manner. The flavours of the fish are naturally enhanced by the seasoning, and the searing of the spring onions with peanut oil gives a great fragrance and adds a delicious complexity of flavour that supports the delicate fish. The scoring on the fish ensures that the thicker body cooks as quickly as the thinner tail section and also makes it much easier to see when the flesh is cooked.


  • 500-600 g (1 lb 2 oz-1 lb 5 oz) whole snapper, scaled and gutted
  • 1 Chinese cabbage (wombok) leaf
  • 3 spring onions (scallions), trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) fresh chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large knob of ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), cut into julienne
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 large handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves


    Pat the fish dry with paper towel. With a sharp knife, make three diagonal cuts in the thickest part of the fish, then do the same in the other direction to make a diamond pattern. Do the same on the other side. Put the cabbage leaf and the whole spring onions in a shallow heatproof bowl that will take the fish comfortably and fit into the steamer. Rub the fish with salt and lay on top of the spring onions. Mix the stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, shaoxing and sugar and pour this over the fish, then top with the ginger. Put the bowl in the steamer over a pot or a wok of rapidly boiling water, cover with the lid and steam for 10–15 minutes (the time will vary depending on the circulation of steam). The fish should be just setting on the bone, exposed by the diagonal cuts. Be careful not to overcook the fish as it will cook a little more when you pour on the oil at the end. Remove the bowl from the steamer and scatter with the spring onion julienne. Heat the peanut oil in a small pot until it is just smoking, then douse the fish with the hot oil — be careful, it will spit! Top with the coriander and serve immediately.