Steamed Whole Fish with Ginger, Chilli and Spring Onions


This is a beautiful fresh, light and zingy recipe that looks great so I often serve it for lunch with friends or part of an evening banquet. I first cooked this after a memorable trip to a local food market in Hong Kong where the fish was so fresh we chose it still swimming in the tank.

Your fishmonger (even the supermarket variety type) should be able to prepare a whole fish for cooking. This will mean gutting, descaling, trimming the fins and gills and if you are squeamish (or short of space) removing the head and tail. If you can’t find a whole fish (or you are a bit squeamish), use fillets and cut the steaming time in half.

I like to use a traditional Chinese bamboo steamer which can be picked up cheaply in oriental supermarkets or any well known internet auction site. One this size will fit snuggly in a wok and steam over a couple of inches of water. For smaller ones you might want to fit them over a saucepan but it will be a bit less stable.

This works by itself as a light bite or with some sticky rice for a larger meal.


  • 1 whole prepared individual sized White fish e.g. Bream, Sea Bass
  • 1 cm ginger
  • 1 birds eye chilli
  • 2 spring onions
  • 5 sprigs of coriander
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 pak choi

Firstly get your wok or pan of water simmering on the stove.

Wash the pak choi and break in to individual leaves. Lay these on the bamboo steamer.

Make the seasoning ingredients by peel the ginger and either grating or julienne. Slice the chillies, spring onions and coriander finely and combine in a small bowl with the soy sauce.

Give the fish a rinse under the tap and you may want to score the top to allow flavourings to penetrate below the skin. Rub some of the seasoning ingredients in to the fish.

Place the fish on top of the pak choi in the steamer and sprinkle the remaining seasoning ingredients on top.

Place the steamer on top of the water and cover. The fish should take roughly 8 minutes to cook. To test it is done without ruining the beauty of your presented fish, you can test it by peaking inside the cavity to make sure it has turned opaque. You can also test by touch. it should feel about the same firmness as a medium rare steak or about 55 degrees centigrade using a temperature probe.