Whole fish is a staple dish in Asian home cooking. However, it can be a pretty scary task for a home cook if you're used to cooking with filets. For picky eaters, the sight of that fish looking at you can turn many away as well. I encourage you to throw all those fears out the window though, because the Asians are right. Whole fish is delicious! Especially when steamed with classic aromatics like ginger, scallion and garlic. This recipe for a steamed whole fish, Asian style, or Cá Hấp Hành Gừng, is deceptively simple and packs a ton of flavor.
Picking your fish
The flavors in this steamed fish dish are mild, so choose a delicate white fish, like bass or branzino. My family likes to use striped bass. Ask the fishmonger at your local grocery store to clean and descale the fish for you, but leave it whole.
Shaoxing wine is a commonly used ingredient in Chinese and other Asian style dishes. It will be used in the soy based sauce for this steamed fish recipe. It's a deep brown color, which adds color to dishes as well. The wine is very aromatic, so try and find it for Asian style dishes if possible. It's available at any Asian grocery store, or online. If you're really in a bind, you can try using a dry sherry in its place, but don't use a cooking sherry.
Steamed Whole Fish with Ginger, Scallion and Crispy Garlic (Cá Hấp Hành Gừng): Step-by-step instructions
For the fish
Pat the fish dry with paper towels and rub each side with a bit of oil to prevent sticking. Stuff the inside of the fish with a few slices of ginger and scallion.
Put your fish on a plate or small casserole dish and place the whole dish in your steamer. I don't have a steamer large enough in my little apartment, so I baked this in a 400 degree oven with a roasting pan full of water underneath. It still came out delicious!
After ten minutes, take the fish out and pour out all of the liquid that has accumulated. This liquid is very fishy, so you don't want to use it. Steam for another 10 minutes after this.
For the sauce
Heat some oil up in a small saucepan on medium heat, and add your garlic. Stir continuously until the garlic is crispy and turns a golden brown color. Be careful! Garlic burns quickly.
Remove and reserve the garlic. We'll use this on top of the fish later. Take 1 tablespoon of the garlic infused oil and add soy sauce, water or chicken broth, sesame oil and Shaoxing wine. Add julienne ginger and bring the whole mixture to a boil.
Take some scallions and slice them lengthwise into thin ribbons. Soak them in a bowl of cold water while the fish finishes cooking. This makes the oniony flavor of the scallions milder, and also makes them curly and pretty!
I forgot to take a picture of this process, but you can see how curly the scallions got in the photos of the steamed whole fish.
Once the fish is finished steaming, take it out and discard any more liquid that may have built up. Arrange the crispy garlic on top of the steamed fish and the scallion ribbons around it. Pour the sauce all over the fish and scallions. The hot liquid will cook the scallions a little.
You can take the ginger and scallion out of the inside of the fish before plating, but I like to keep it. The ginger, scallion and garlic are a flavor combination that can't be beat!
I love fish recipes. Now i get an yummy receipt. i ll try this on weekend.
Let me know how it goes!
I love fish and this looks soooo delicious!!
I may attempt to try to cook this over the weekend!
Thank you for sharing!
OMG Can I just say, I can’t help but drool over the picture! Who would not love to taste this! I’ll be printing out your recipe so I can try making this out over the weekends.
Take a picture and share it with me when you make it!
I’m not sure I should have read this post while my husband is cooking dinner – now I want to send him back to the supermarket and get the ingredients for this!
That finished product looks absolutely magnificent. Well done with all of this!
Streamed TV Fan
I'm always looking for different fish recipes to keep it interesting for my children. Will try this one.
This looks absolutely delicious! I love trying new things and I might give this a shot this weekend! It looks easy to follow too! Thank you for sharing!
This sounds like a great dish, and I like the presentation too. I have never made fish like this, and it would be fun to try.
I love seafood but I’ve never had the nerve to try to cook a whole fish. I may have to try this though.
The instructions are so clear, I think I can follow well and make a perfect steamed fish.
I really like the flavors in the dish. The scallions and the ginger can spice up any dish!
This recipe looks tasty and delicious! My family would love this if I will prepare this dinner. Thanks for the recipe. YUmmy!
Life Of Y
This recipe looks great. It really reminds me of my mums cooking when I lived at home. I think it’s time to pay a visit to the parents!!
My mom will definitely love this recipe, it look so delicious and easy to make. I will share this with her as she loves eating fish a lot.
This whole fish recipe looks so interesting, and unique.
I love making fish in steamer. for me it feels like the best option there is! never fails.
I really loved serving steamed fish for my loved ones. They will definitely love this new recipe, thanks..!
This looks so delicious I have to try this! Fish is my favorite
Jenn ~ onehoppymomma
Cooking a whole fish has always been intimidating for me. However, I just love ginger & steaming sounds so easy that I'm definitely going to try this recipe.
I always love to try a new fish recipe, this looks amazing.
I am always scared to cook a fish dish but this seems easy and straight forward
As a teenager, I was appalled the first time I was served whole fish (in Europe in the 1980s). I thought the fish was staring at me. Now that I'm older, I've gotten over it. I bet this fish is delicious with the ginger, scallions, and garlic.
We make fish a lot, but never the whole fish. This looks yummy!
Jen @ Jenron Designs
Wow that makes a show stopping dish a very impressive meal with few ingredients.
That's what I love most about it!
I love fish. Fish is the favourite food of eastern part of India, where I come from. I loved your recipe.
Lovely pic of dish. Looks so colorful and of course it's healthy too. I learn different recipe of cooking fish. Thanks for sharing.
Oh i want this dish noowwww!!! I love steamed fish with fresh herbs and ginger. So yummy!!! I will try this recipe this weekend. Thank you.
I'm literally salivating now. When are we going to be able taste things digitally? Lol.
Soo delicious, nice photos as well, will definetely try 🙂
I love this, I cook fish a lot and I'm trying to move away from using too much oil so this recipe is perfect.
It's definitely a healthy dish! And the ginger is anti-inflammatory too 🙂
Such an indepth post I love the style and the recipe sounds lush!
Thanks! I try to include as many details on ingredients and method as possible because I want anyone to be able to cook classic Asian food 🙂