How To Make Chinese-Style Steamed Whole Fish

This Chinese-style method for steaming a whole fish is very healthy. It serves 4, and is easy to make. Here's how to make Chinese-style steamed whole fish.

Step 1

Ingredients and supplies:

  • 1 fresh whole mackerel, cleaned, approx. 2 lbs.        
  • 1 minced garlic glove
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup scallions with tops, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 custard cups, shot glasses, or other small glass dishes
  • Sharp knife
  • Large spoon
  • Large wok or roasting pan with lid
  • 2 large bowls
  • Glass baking dish, large enough to hold the fish

Step 2

Prepare the ingredients. Mince the garlic and ginger. Then chop the celery and scallions. If the fish needs cleaning, clean it before you begin cooking. Fresh fish works best, but if you absolutely must use a frozen fish, make sure it is fully defrosted before trying to steam it using this method.

Step 3

Mix the vegetables and seasonings. Combine the celery, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, oil, sherry, ginger, and sugar in a bowl. Mix until just combined and set aside.

Step 4

Prepare the fish. Make 3 or 4 small diagonal slices along both sides of the fish using a sharp knife. Then place the fish in a glass baking dish, and spoon the vegetable mixture over the fish. You may also want to make a slit so that you can stuff some of the vegetable mixture inside the fish.

Step 5

Assemble the steamer. Place 4 inverted custard cups, or other small glasses, in the large wok. They will act as a stand for the baking dish. Set the baking dish on top of the cups.

Step 6

Steam the fish. Add hot water to the wok until it is about 1 inch deep. Then cover the wok, and place on high heat until the water boils. Reduce the heat to medium, and steam the fish for 25 minutes. When the flesh flakes easily near the top fin, the fish is done. If the flesh still sticks together, check again in a minute or two. If you try to steam the fish over high heat, it will end up overcooked even if you watch it carefully.

Step 7

Serve. The steamed fish should be served hot, as soon as it is done steaming. You can season your steamed fish with a variety of seasonings including soy sauce, cilantro, ginger, green onions, or peanut oil. Serve with fresh herbs and clean sauce, not the sauce left in the pan when the fish is done cooking. This liquid can taste "fishy", and not in a good way. Plus, the seasonings lose their flavor during the steaming process.

Steaming is the most delicious way to cook fresh fish, because it allows the delicate, sweet flavor of the fish to come through. You can use other types of fish, including bass, red or yellowtail snapper, rock fish, tilapia, trout, or halibut using this method.


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