chinese steamed fish recipe: easy to follow step-by-step


Steamed pangasius fish fillets with homemade sauce from mom (similar to black bean sauce)

Chinese Steamed pangasius fish fillets  


Looking at my blog, I do not have many chinese recipes so far and I thought maybe I should share more of my chinese cooking experience. My friends here are always curious how do I prepare my Chinese dish at home so hopefully my foodblog will benefit to those who are interested to give a try at home. I also notice that more and more western countries people would like to eat more healthily and have increased acceptance in trying all kinds of asian food. Steaming is definitely one of the most healthiest cooking method.

Leaving abroad, it is not easy to access fresh fish from the market like I used to be able to in Hong Kong. In most Chinese opinion, to make steam fish you should always use the freshest ones, ideally directly from the fish market, frozen fish is not so ideal.

Some time ago, I went to a chinese restaurant in Basel and ordered steamed fish, to my surprise, the fish tasted fresh and amazingly good (of course you cannot compare with real seafood), I asked the owner which fish did they use and the answer is “frozen pangasius fish fillets”. I wondered how could that be possible so shortly after I bought a pack of pangasius fish fillet (approx 6 fillets per pack) from the Asian groceries shop here and tried out at home. Wow, I can really replicate the same. I am happy that when I was small, my dad always insisted me to help in the kitchen and over the years I have been able to pick up the practical skills from my mom.

Kitchen utensils required:


  • 2 Pangasius fish fillet*
  • 1 sprig of spring onion
  • Small piece of ginger cut into thin strips
  • 4 tbsp Cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Black bean sauce (optional)

*The advantages I found about using Pangasius fish for steaming are that these fillets do not smell fishy and you don’t need to worry about fish scales, bones and skin, etc. That makes the preparation part cleaner and more efficient : )


  1. Defrost the fish fillets and wash them briefly in cold running tap water.
  2. Use kitchen towels to absorb excess water from the fish fillets.
  3. Lie a small portion of the sliced ginger and spring onion on the plate, then place the fish fillets on them. The remaining ginger and spring onion can now be placed on top of the fish. If you like black bean and garlic sauce, you can add some on top at this time, otherwise just ginger and spring onion are already enough.
  4. Boil hot water, put the steaming rack in the wok and pour in the boiling water into the wok. Put the stove in high heat to keep the water boiling.
  5. Now you can carefully put the steam fish on the steam rack, cover the wok.
  6. Normally the time required for steaming depends on the size, weight and thickness of fish, for this portion, 10 mins should be enough. Depending the strength of your stove, you can turn down slightly the heat after the first 2-3 mins of steaming.
  7. When it is almost closed to 10 mins of steaming, you can heat up the cooking oil in a saucepan, make sure the oil is hot enough.
  8. When the fish is cooked, remove the plate from the wok or steam pan. You will find there is some liquid from steaming on the dish, discard the liquid. Then pour in the hot cooking oil very slowly on the fish as you will see the oil sizzling.
  9. Finally you can add the soy sauce to the fish and serve immediately with steamed ice.

I hope the recipe above is detailed enough for you to follow step-by-step.

After a few attempts and gaining some experience, you may want to move on and try other fish, e.g. sea bass, garouper, cod…

Enjoy and feel free to drop your feedback!

16 thoughts on “chinese steamed fish recipe: easy to follow step-by-step

  1. Steaming is a great way to cook! Before starting this Japanese cooking project, I think the only foods I steamed were vegetables and dumplings. Now I’ve tried fish, chicken, and pork recipes.

    Oh, wait, I used to make a Chinese steamed bread—sometimes stuffed with pork, sometimes plain. Do you ever make anything like that?

    Hi Tess, the Chinese steamed bread you are referring to, we called it ‘Cha Siu Bun’ stuffed with roast pork. I do eat them at home but I buy the ready made ones from chinese shop. I also like steaming ‘Dim Sum’ too.

  2. I was born in Hong Kong and lived there for 12 years – I loved the steamed whole fish you have at Chinese New Year. I’ve never tried it myself though, always relied on my mum and grandma!

    Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the blogroll, I’ll check it out 🙂

  3. Hey there, Thanks for the recipe. I made this tonight and it was great! It was just like eating out but in the comfort of my own home!
    I cooked it with whole bream and for around 15mins and it was cooked perfectly.
    Thanks again, I really enjoyed the meal!

    Hi Emily, I am so pleased that you have enjoyed the meal so much and the recipe has proven to work for you. This steamed fish recipe is my most popular post, I always wonder if the readers do really try it out. Thanks for giving me the feedback! Happy Cooking!

  4. Hi Janet : Your Steamed Fish looks good. I love steamed fish!!! Do you have any recipe to share?

    Hi there, thanks for your compliment, which recipes in particular you are looking for ?

  5. Usually they leave the skin on the fish when steaming, but I guess this is for Western tastes to leave out fish and bones..
    Anyway, adding some whisky or sherry to the fish makes it more fragrant, and chilli/coriander will also give it some kick. My parents also add sugar to the soy sauce (heated and dissolved), which makes it taste even better! Also, if you like things sweet, using half dark soy, half light soy sauce is nice.
    Nice to see a fellow HK person blogging 😀 Where are you living now?

    Hi there, I am now living in Basel, Switzerland. Nice to hear the tips from you! You will use the sherry/ whisky instead of chinese rice cooking wine? And you are right, it would be more preferable to have fresh fish for steaming but in Switzerland, you cannot have the fresh fish that the chinese means.

  6. Hi Janet,

    Initially, I looked down on frozen fish but circumstances forced me to use it and I was pleasantly surprised! Now for steaming purposes (chinese or thai style) I use the frozen ones.

  7. Hi Venny, which frozen ones you use? Me too, I Looked down on them before but I tried the fresh ones here in Basel and sometimes not even as good! Do you have a recipe of the Thai style? Will you blog it? Love to try. Cheers, janet

  8. My parents are from Shanghai. This is similar to how they steamed their fish. They used cod and added a little sugar and sherry to the soy sauce. Just a tip for better flavor. Also slice the ginger very thin and use lots of it.

  9. Thanks for the great recipe! I live in Germany and also have a hard time finding ingredients for the Chinese food I loved when I lived in Beijing. I tried your recipe tonight, adding rice wine and brown sugar to the soy sauce instead of the garlic black bean sauce, and it was really nice! I’m so excited I have a way to use all of those Pangasius filets I have now, and I can’t wait to try it with the garlic black bean sauce!

  10. Hi Ashley, so nice to read your message, glad you find the recipe useful. Where about you live in Germany? I think Frankfurt does have good Chinese grocery shop near train station, whereas I think Berlin also have numerous Asian groceries stalls I heard. It’s amazing that the pangasius can turn into a great dish isn’t it? Happy cooking!

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