Chinese-style Steamed Fish


Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Keep it Simple

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1993

  • About

It was in Soho's Chinatown that I first ate steamed fish and discovered that many of the restaurants there sold whole cooked sea bass as loss leaders at a price that was about the same as you could buy it at the fishmonger, sometimes less.

Steaming is a great technique for many different fish, as long as they are cooked whole and on the bone. They don't have to be expensive: lemon sole, for example, is excellent cooked this way, as is whiting. If you want to go up-market try steaming a Dover sole.

You can use a range of different pieces of kit for steaming. I like the bamboo baskets you buy cheaply in Chinese markets, but you can also use a custom-made metal steamer or just a large wok with a lid and a rack. You steam the fish on the plate on which you will serve it Make sure it is large enough for the fish to sit flat on the plate when it is placed in the steamer.

This dish can be for two people, or provide a small amount for four. In a Cantonese meal the fish would be brought at the same time as all the other dishes, but I prefer to eat it on its own. The Chinese also tend to scatter the fish with lots of flavouring ingredients, like dried shrimp and bits of ham, which I find unnecessary.