Our Asian Steamed Fish fillet recipe is a healthy low carb easy recipe with a punch of Cantonese and Japanese flavors blended into a delightful Asian Fusion 20-minute dinner idea.
Cantonese steamed fish is a succulent cod fish steamed with aromatic ginger and glazed with a delicately sweet mirin (Japanese wine), dashi, soy or gluten-free tamari sauce and green onions. Much like our Ginger Chili Fish Stir Fry, Tropical Thai Swordfish and Healthy Mediterranean Baked Fish , this Asian Steamed Fish is a crowd pleaser for even picky fish eaters. Topped with fresh cilantro and a drizzle of sesame oil for the perfect clean eating experience. You are going to love how this perfectly steamed fish just melts in your mouth.
Table of Contents
11 Delicious Reason to Enjoy Asian Steamed Fish
- Fusion of delicious Chinese and Japanese flavors
- Low carb
- Gluten free options
- Healthy easy recipe
- Less than 20-minute meal
- Low fat
- Steamed fish and vegetables in one pan
- Spleen qi diet friendly - Feed Your Spleen: Nourish Your Body
- No fancy steamer required
- Good luck for abundance of wealth and prosperity in the Chinese New Year
- No sunken eyeballs staring back at you for those that are squeamish about eating a whole steamed fish. We used fish fillets for this fish recipe.
What Fish is Good for Steaming?
What is your favorite mild flavored sustainable white fish? Then, that is exactly the one you should choose for this recipe. Depending on where you live in the world, your access to different kinds of fish will be variable. We used wild caught Pacific Cod fillets for this recipe as it was sustainable, easy to find and not too expensive. If you love cod, be sure to try our post for Baked Cod Parcels with Black Bean Sauce for another delicious dinner idea.
In the US, you may want to choose cod, haddock, grouper, bass, halibut, and many more. If you want to learn more about sustainable fish options, be sure to check out Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. In Hong Kong, we would steam a “whole” Red Big Eyed Snapper. If grouper is in your budget, that would be a delicious option too. Depending on what country you are in, look for wild, fresh and sustainable mild white fish.
Fish Fillets vs Whole Fish
Do you panic, if you see a whole fish with the head still on with the eyes still looking at you on the dish? How do you know what kind of fish it is if the head and tails are removed? We know that for many of you, this may be overwhelming. Therefore, we used fish fillets with the skins removed for this Asian fusion cod recipe. Fish fillets are quick, easy, less messy and kids are more apt to eat them vs a whole fish. In addition, they fit easily into a steamer device.
If you prefer to steam a whole fish, we will add hints for steaming a whole fish in the recipe notes and check out our Centennial Post for step by step photos. Personally, we find steaming the whole fish is more flavorful because it is steamed with the fish bones. In addition, we always fight over the fish cheeks - The prized possession. However, because of its large size of a whole fish, you will need to have a large wok, plate and lid to cover and properly steam your fish.
How to Steam Fish in a Pan?
Learning how to steam fish without a steamer is going to be the best new cooking technique you learned this year. For those of you who have a bamboo steamer, built in stove steamers, fish cookers or other super unique kitchen equipment, we are completely jealous! For the rest of us, here are 3 easy ideas using everyday kitchen items to steam fish.
The goal is to find a cooking pot big enough that you can put something on the bottom to elevate a dish with the fish on top away from the water and get a lid on the whole contraption.
You need a pot, wok or deep frying pan that is deep enough to be able to put something at the bottom to elevate a dish and keep your fish out of the water. This dish will hold the fish out of the water. Finally, a lid is required to cover and initiate the cooking. The lid needs to be able to create a good seal. Check out our video below to learn more about how to steam a fish without a steamer.
Favorite ways to Steam Fish Without a Steamer
- Metal wok steamer plate inserted in a wok or deep pan with a plate on top. (Metal rack steamer inserts can be purchased at Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, Asian Markets, etc.)
- Two chopsticks crisscrossed in a wok or deep pan with a plate on top.
- Apple core device or an upside down small ramekin in a wok or frying pan with a plate on top.
- Bamboo steamer on top of a pot or in a wok.
- If you like the idea of steaming in a banana leaf, be sure to try our Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut Fish.
New Country = New Culinary Skills
When you live in different countries, you learn how to adapt to your environment. You also bring a little of all the flavors, experiences and cultures along with you on your long journey.
Living in the States, we learned how to adapt to the hustle and bustle of working full time plus with kids. This taught us basic kitchen survival skills on keeping things simple and quick in the kitchen to minimize the evening chaos. However, living in Japan taught us how to slow down and live in the moment. We learned to take the time to enjoy simple, pure ingredients that really make the flavors of a dish stand alone.
In Hong Kong, China I have learned the love and importance of the bamboo steamer. Steaming is a very healthy way to prepare your food as the vitamins and minerals remain without the use of any additional fats. We have embraced Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and have learned how certain foods, herbs and their preparation methods can affect our health.
Today, we want to share with you the blend of all of these international experiences in a American-Japanese-Chinese fusion dish. From America, it had to be something quick and easy for those stressed-out working parents. We wanted to bring the culture from Japan and make a dish that brings calm and simplicity to your evening. From China, we wanted to share with you the simple art of steaming and healthy cooking.
- Mild fresh sustainable white fish fillets from your region without the skin
- Bok choy or other favorite greens of choice
- Daikon radish (Asian mild radish) or other vegetable (carrots, lettuce, etc.) to place on the bottom of the dish so the fish does not stick.
- Fresh ginger peeled and cut into julienne slices
- Dashi is a simple Japanese Broth made from water and kombu (dried kelp) - Learn how to make Dashi (The Ultimate Guide) from our dear friend Nami-san. To keep it simple, we used a pre-made mix that you just add water to.
- Mirin is a sweet Japanese wine. You can find this in the Asian food section of the grocery store or in an Asian Food market. Sometimes, they have an alternative version of mirin. Aji-Mirin is a sweet cooking rice seasoning that can be used as well.
- Soy sauce or can use tamari sauce if you need to keep it gluten free.
- Sesame oil and white pepper for additional umami flavor.
- Aromatic such as garlic, green onions and cilantro for a fresh and delicious Asian Steamed Fish.
How to make the Best Steamed Fish
- Choose a fish fillet that is not too thin or too thick and relatively symmetrical in thickness so that it cooks evenly. If you want to make a proper Cantonese Steamed Fish, using a whole fish is the way to go.
- Using the supplies you have on hand, explore your kitchen to find the best fish steaming set up. See the section above Favorite ways to Steam Fish Without a Steamer for some inspiration on different set ups.
- Add water to your steamer and boil with the lid on.
- Line your plate with diakon radish or other vegetables (thin sliced carrots, lettuce, etc.) so the fish does not stick.
- Place your white fish over the cut vegetables on the plate and garnish with thin sliced fresh ginger. Add fresh green vegetables, like bok choy, around the fish. Steam fish and vegetables between 4 minutes to 8-10 minutes depending on size and thickness of fillet. Your fish fillet should easily flake with a fork and no longer be translucent.
- In the meantime, fry ginger, garlic, green onions, dashi, mirin, white pepper and soy sauce in a pan with a little oil.
- Pour sauce over cooked Asian Steamed Fish. Garnish with cilantro and sesame oil.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Steamed fish is ready to eat when it easily flakes with a fork and is no longer translucent.
A mild wild caught white fish that is native to your region, sustainable and in your budget range. Cod, halibut, grouper, bass, haddock, snapper, etc. are all delicious steamed.
Prepare your steaming device with water. Remove skin from fish. Place a vegetable like diakon or lettuce on the plate so the fish does not stick. Then, put the fish on top of the vegetables on the plate. Garnish fish with julienne sliced fresh ginger. Feel free to add green leafy vegetables around the plate, like bok choy, and cover. Steam fish and vegetables for 4 to up to 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish fillets. The fish is cooked when the flesh flakes easily with a fork and is no longer translucent.
More Delicious Seafood Recipes
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Asian Steamed Fish
- wok or large deep frying pan
- chopsticks, metal wok steamer device, bamboo steamer or ramekin dish
- water - depending on the size of your steaming device enough water so that level of water is about 2 inches below
- 3 slices diakon radish peeled and sliced thin
- 10 ounces white fish boneless and skinless fillets ( We used cod but any delicate white fish you fancy would work well: tilapia, halibut, etc) See recipe notes for whole fish steaming instructions
- 1 inch ginger fresh ginger knob peeled and cut into thin julienne slices or like match sticks
- 2 bok choy optional - cut in half lengthwise or veggie of choice
- ¾ teaspoon dashi powder mixed in ¼ cup water (or ¼ cup homemade dashi broth)
- ¼ cup water to mix with dried dashi powder (hold if using homemade dashi broth)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 inch ginger fresh ginger knob peeled and cut into thin julienne slices or like match sticks
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 6 green onions Cut into thirds and sliced horizontally
- 2 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking rice wine)
- 1 teaspoon sugar or sugar alternative
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari to keep gluten free
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper or to taste
- sesame oil - 1 teaspoon
- 1 bunch cilantro (coriander) optional but very delicious
- rice - optional
- Set up your steamer. If you have built in oven steamer or fish oven, prepare per factory recommendations. However, if you don't have a steamer, don't worry as long as you have a wok or deep pan with a tight fitting lid then you can create a modified steamer with common things around the house. There are 4 options that work very well for us..1) Metal wok steamer plate inserted in a wok or deep pan with a plate on top. 2) Two chopsticks criss crossed in a wok or deep pan with a plate on top. 3) Ramekin or small dipping dish upside down, then your flat plate on top of that and lid on top of that. Apple Corers are another great option as they are just slightly elevated. 4) Bamboo steamer on top of a pot or in a wok.Place enough water at the bottom of your pan so that the water level is at least 2 inches away from the steamer basket, plate, etc. Turn on your burner and bring your steamer to a boil. Watch the video below and you watch how this works in action.
- (If you are planning to serve rice with your meal, start cooking your rice now, if diabetic or watching your carbs replace the rice with more assorted veggies, mushrooms or cauliflower rice)
- Place peeled and sliced diakon slices (or other vegetables like carrot slices or lettuce) on your steaming plate to prevent your fish from sticking to the plate or steamer basket.
- Place cod fish fillets (or any mild white fish of preference like mahi mahi, tilapia, haddock, etc.) on top on the diakon radishes (or other vegetables) on your steaming plate (bamboo basket). If you prefer to steam a whole fish, see recipe notes for details.
- Place julienne sliced ginger on top of fish fillets (if using whole fish stuff the cavity of the fish with ginger slices). Just as a quick note you will needing more ginger julienne slices for the Asian sauce.
- Arrange bok choy or other green vegetables of choice around fish. Once the steamer water comes to a boil, put your fish with bok choy plate into the steamer. Depending on the size of your fish, you will need to stream your fish between4 or up to 8-10 minutes. Larger or thicker fish fillets or whole fish will take longer to cook than thinner fillets. Our cod cooked in 4 minutes. Your fish should flake easily with a fork and no longer be translucent. The quick cooking green veggies should be aldente.
- In the meantime, make your Asian sauce. In a small pan, add oil, ginger, garlic, half of the green onions, dashi broth, mirin, sugar or sugar alternative, soy or tamari sauce and white pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning to taste. Just before removing the sauce from the pan add the rest of the green onions and give it a quick stir.
- Remove fish and bok choy from steamer and drain well. Drizzle Asian sauce on top and sesame oil. Garnish with Cilantro (coriander)and enjoy! Serve on its own for a low carb dinner or with rice for a delicious full meal.