Cantonese-Style Fish with Ginger and Scallions

Cooking fish whole may seem intimidating, but in fact it’s quite simple since the only knifework you’ll need is during serving, when the fish is cooked and so tender it pulls away from the bone effortlessly.

On FreshDirect, you’ll find an assortment of whole fish within our 100% sustainable seafood selection. For this Chinese-style recipe, any white, flaky fish will do. Our first choice here would be our wonderfully meaty branzino, which has a robustness that stands up well to the bold seasonings. We also love our tai snapper, which is delicately sweet, creating a dynamic flavor contrast. But really just about any fish will do–and yes, you can swap in fish fillets, though we really like a whole fish here because it retains its juiciness, is visually stunning, and is the perfect size for a small group of people.

The combination of scallion, ginger, and soy sauce used here is essential to Cantonese cuisine, in which steamed fish is often the centerpiece of a ceremonial meal. It is also a staple of Lunar New Year, as fish are a symbol of prosperity, promising wealth in the months to come.

You don’t need a banquet to enjoy this dish, however. The recipe is simple enough to make for a nice meal at home with a couple of your favorite people. Serve it with some white rice and stir-fried veggies, and perhaps also a crisp white wine. 

Cantonese-Style Steamed Whole Fish Recipe

What you’ll need:
3 scallions
A 1-inch piece of ginger
10 sprigs cilantro
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
One 2-pound whole fish (or two 8–10 oz fish fillets)
2 tablespoon oil

Note: If you don’t have a steamer, you can cook the fish en papillote on a large piece of aluminum foil.

What to do:

Julienne two scallions into 2-inch matchsticks. Cut one more scallion into 1-inch segments. Peel ginger and cut off a few thin slices, then julienne the remainder. Roughly chop cilantro.

In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, hot water, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Place a steamer basket in a saucepan with an inch or two of water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Use a paper towel to pat dry the surface of the fish. Lay on a heatproof plate that will fit inside the steamer. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of soy sauce mixture. Place ginger slices and scallion segments on top. Nestle plate with fish inside steamer and cover. Lower heat to medium and let water come to a slow boil. Let steam until cooked through (flesh should be fully opaque and yielding), 7–10 minutes. 

Carefully remove plate from steamer and reserve about half the juices on plate. Slice fish and arrange on a serving platter with juices. Garnish with half each of the julienned scallions, ginger, and cilantro.

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium pan. Add remaining ginger and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Toss in remaining scallions, then add remaining cilantro and soy sauce mixture. Bring to a simmer, then pour over fish and serve.