Chinese steamed fish is a traditional Chinese dish that is served at celebrations and family dinners all over the world. It is not only healthy and easy to make, but it is packed with flavor. This recipe is a step-by-step guide on how to make this yummy dish, and includes how to adjust it for a Chinese New Year celebration.

Chinese steamed fish on a large plate topped with green onions, cilantro, and ginger and served with soy sauce.

One of the classic dishes we always have at weddings, Chinese New Years, or for dinners at large Chinese restaurants is Chinese steamed fish. It is one of my favorite recipes because it is not only healthy and easy to make, it is also so so good. I loved developing this recipe, and learning how to make this dish at home! Included is how to make this dish using fish chunks and also how to make it using whole fish which is how you serve it during Chinese New Year.

Julienned green onions and ginger. Each ingredient is in a small white bowl.

Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments

  • Cod – Any kind of delicate white fish should work for this recipe. I personally love the flavor of cod, so that’s what I got! Other options are sea bass, halibut, and tilapia.
  • Green onions – Adds freshness to the dish and balances out the umami flavors.
  • Ginger – Helps take away the fishy flavor of the fish.
  • Vegetable oil – You can use vegetable oil or olive oil for this dish. I’ve tested this recipe with both, and they both work. Another substitute is grapeseed oil.
  • Soy sauce – Adds yummy umami flavor to the fish. To make this dish gluten free, use tamari as a substitute. I’ve tested this recipe with tamari, and it tastes just as good!
  • Granulated sugar – Adds sweetness to the dish and gives balance to the sauce. For a healthier substitute, use coconut sugar.
  • Salt for seasoning
  • Sesame oil – Adds smokey umami flavor to the sauce

How to make Chinese steamed fish

Prep your steamer pot. Bring water to a boil and lower to a simmer. Add the steamer insert on top. In a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of green onions to the bottom, followed by the cod. Lastly, add 1 tablespoon of ginger over the fish. Put the bowl in the steamer pot and let the fish steam for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.

Combine the vegetable oil and the rest of the ginger in a medium saucepan. Heat for 15-20 seconds until the oil starts to sizzle. Remove the fish from the steamer pot and place the fish onto a large plate. Pour the cooked ginger mixture over the fish. Top the fish with remaining green onions. Set aside. Combine all the ingredients for the soy sauce in a small bowl and mix. Heat the soy sauce sauce in a sauce pan for 15-20 seconds until the edges start to bubble. Pour over the fish and serve immediately.

How to make this recipe using whole fish for Lunar New Year

This dish is commonly served during Lunar New Year, and during that time, it is traditional to serve this dish whole. It is traditional to serve whole fish during new years because it signifies a good beginning and end to the year. If you want to serve this dish whole, I would either use a smaller fish that fits your steamer/pot or get a larger steamer pot.

What if I don’t have a steamer pot?

If you don’t have a steamer pot, you can use any kind of large pot to steam. All you need is the pot and bowl. Fill the pot with water ~1 inch up the side of the pot. Place a bowl upside down at the bottom. Put the pot onto the stove and bring water to a simmer. Add your fish to a separate bowl and place that bowl on top of the bowl on the bottom. Cover and start steaming!

A close up of Chinese steamed fish topped with cilantro, green onions, and ginger served with soy sauce.

Tips on how to make the perfect Chinese steamed fish

Adjust the cook time based on the thickness of the fish

My cod was 1-1.5 inches thick, and I steamed my fish for 8-10 minutes. If the fish is thicker, increase the amount of time you steam the fish. If the fish is thinner, decrease the amount of time you steam the fish. The fish should be flaky and cooked through.

Serve right away!

This is not a dish that you make ahead of time and then serve the next day. It tastes best when served as soon as the soy sauce hits the fish.

How do you store Chinese steamed fish?

Store steamed fish in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

A spoonful of Chinese steamed fish

Did you make this dish?

If you made this dish, I would love to see!

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Chinese steamed fish on a large plate topped with green onions, cilantro, and ginger and served with soy sauce.

Get the Recipe:
Easy Chinese Steamed Fish

A yummy and easy Chinese steamed fish using cod, topped with green onions and ginger, and served with soy sauce.
5 from 1 rating

Ingredients
 
 

Steamed Fish

Soy Sauce

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Prep your steamer pot. Bring water to a boil and lower to a simmer. Add the steamer insert on top.
  • In a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of green onions to the bottom, followed by the cod. Lastly, add 1 tablespoon of ginger over the fish.
  • Put the bowl in the steamer pot and let the fish steam for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Combine the vegetable oil and the rest of the ginger in a medium saucepan. Heat for 15-20 seconds until the oil starts to sizzle.
  • Remove the fish from the steamer pot and place the fish onto a large plate. Pour the cooked ginger mixture over the fish.
  • Top the fish with remaining green onions. Set aside.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the soy sauce in a small bowl and mix.
  • Heat the soy sauce sauce in a sauce pan for 15-20 seconds until the edges start to bubble.
  • Pour over the fish and serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Cod can be substituted with tilapia, halibut, or sea bass. Adjust the steaming time based on how thick your fish is. My fish was 1-1.5 inches thick.
  2. Vegetable oil can be substituted with olive oil or grapeseed oil.
  3. To make this recipe gluten free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
  4. How do you store steamed fish? Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
Calories: 166kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 32g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 1194mg, Potassium: 768mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 113IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 34mg, Iron: 1mg
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