We have a favorite Chinese restaurant in town called Fat’s that makes this amazing Cantonese steamed fish. I wanted to try making it at home. It’s a little out of my comfort zone because I don’t have much experience steaming anything, but how hard could it be? People steam stuff all the time. It’s not like I’m making a souffle or macarons. Actually, let’s not speak of the time I tried making macarons. They turned out chewy. Enough said.
Some people use bamboo steam baskets, but I decided to go with an old-fashioned metal steam basket like the kind my mom used to use to make that awful mushy steamed broccoli she’d serve for dinner. Let’s not speak of that either.
Let’s prep the ingredients. Grate some fresh ginger. Slice up some green onion. Rough chop the cilantro. Set aside a bit of green onion and cilantro for garnish. Measure out the soy sauce, salt, sugar, and vegetable oil. Grab some hot water.
Mix together soy sauce, salt, sugar, and hot water. Set aside. Now comes the fun part. Grab a wok and add a couple inches of water. It doesn’t need to be precise, but the water level needs to be below your steamer. When you stick your steamer in the wok, if there’s water in the steamer, you’ve got too much water.
Salt and pepper your fish. I chose tilapia because it was on sale and I’m all about the sales. Once your water is boiling, place the fish in the steam basket.
Cover and steam it until the fish is cooked. Mine looked like this and took about 9 minutes.
Time to make the sauce. I poured out the water from the wok, wiped it dry, and heated it up with vegetable oil. Cooked the ginger, added the white parts of the green onion, cooked it some more, added the rest of the green onions and cilantro. Everything smells pretty good at this point.
But wait! There’s more! Add the soy sauce mixture you made earlier. and bring it to a simmer. When everything looks a bit wilted, you’re done.
Pour it over the fish and throw some green onions and cilantro on top to make it look pretty.
It’s not fancy. It’s just good food. I love how the ginger made it spicy and the soy sauce made it salty. The touch of sugar made it a bit sweet and the fish was moist unlike when you roast it in the oven or fry it in a pan. Definitely a make again.
Cantonese Steamed Fish
- 2 tablespoons ginger
- 4 green onions
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 4 tablespoons hot water
- 1 1/4 pounds white fish
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Grate ginger. Slice green onions at an angle and separate the green and white parts. Rough chop cilantro. Save some green onion and cilantro for garnish, and then set the rest aside.
- Combine the light soy sauce, salt, sugar, and hot water in a small bowl, and mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside.
- Prepare your steaming set up in a wok by filling the wok with 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Place a metal steam basket in the wok.
- Rinse fish and then season with salt and pepper. Carefully place it on the steamer basket, and adjust the heat to medium. The water should be at a slow boil and generates a good amount of steam.
- Depending on the size and thickness of the fish, cover and steam for 7-10 minutes until cooked through. Turn off heat and set aside.
- To make the sauce, heat a wok or small saucepan to medium high heat, and add vegetable oil. Add ginger, and fry for 1 minute. Add the white parts of the green onion and cook for 30 seconds.Then add rest of the green onion and cilantro. The mixture should be sizzling.
- Add the soy sauce mixture. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook until the scallions and cilantro are just wilted, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture over fish. Garnish with green onions and cilantro.