Steamed Fish: Singapore, My New Home 2/3

Recipe and food styling by chef Deric Koh 

Simplest recipes are in many cases the best!  This personal belief pretty much applies to this Chinese style steamed fish.  Steaming a whole fish is a simple, homey technique that delivers subtle, yet accentuated flavors.

When Chef Derick Koh suggested to serve steamed fish as a second dish — following the Hookein Mee, I was taken back a bit.  For some reason, the word steamed conjured up blank, bland flesh.  Yet, I was terribly mistaken.

The Chinese steaming technique in this recipe delivers distilled, subtle amalgam of flavors’ notes, while maintaining the integration of the fish flesh.  The steam agent helps concentrate all the aromas of soy sauce, ginger, chili and cilantro in the pan, to form a sauce that is smooth, translucent, that is neither watery, nor lumpy.

Let the steam do the magic.

Pairing the white flesh fish with the steaming technique is just right.  The white flesh wonderfully absorbs the flavors of aromatics, without conceding its personality and discernible taste.

A sturdy wooden chopstick inserted under the middle of the fish guaranteed the even cooking of the entire fish (see photo below).

Stuff the incisions with grated ginger. And place a wooden chopstick under the fish for even cooking.

No professional steamer is requited for this dish.  A regular wok would work just fine.  Just place the fish in a porcelain dish that can take the heat, over a metal rack snugged tightly inside the wok.

Timing in this dish is key, building the flavors of this dish requires some accuracy, as ingredients are not added at once (see directions below).  It is a healthy, quick fix dinner that takes no longer than 30 minutes.

In the recipe below, we accurately describe each step, so you get to try and share with your loved ones an authentic dish with fresh, clean taste.

Steamed Fish, Chinese Style

Serves 4 people


  • 1 whole sea bass, almost 600 grams
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 60 grams grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 red chili, sliced
  • 1 Lemon, sliced


  1. Rub the entire fish with soy sauce,  and place it on a flat porcelain dish.
  2. Make incisions that are 2 cm approx. apart along the fish.  Fill them with grated ginger.
  3. Place the dish in the steamer, add some water, put the lid on and let it steam for 8 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and sprinkle the fresh cilantro and chili and put the lid back on and let it steam for another one minute.
  5. Remove the steamer from the heat, with the help of two spatulas remove the fish from the steamer and place it on the serving dish.
  6. Decorate it with lemon slices or quarters.
  7. Serve the fish hot, with steamed white or brown rice.




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