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Cantonese Steamed Whole Fish

Well, another year has rolled by and it’s the Year of the Dragon.

I realize it has been a LONG while since I’ve turned up here at Foodrepublik.  I’ve decided to stop updating this blog. Not that I didn’t have a great time doing it, but I feel like I need to move on. I’ve changed a lot and I feel like Foodrepublik doesn’t represent “me” anymore. But please continue to enjoy the recipes! In the meantime, I leave you with a recipe.

Cantonese Steamed Whole Fish

Steamed whole fish is one of the traditional dishes for Chinese New Year.  The word for fish, “yu”, is similar to the word for “overabundance”.  A common saying at CNY is “Nian nian you yu”, which means “May you have surplus every year”.  The fish has to be whole with the head and the tail, to symbolize the start and end of the next year.

Cantonese style steamed fish is super easy to make, and you don’t really even need a bamboo steamer.  Just set the whole fish (cleaned and de-scaled) in a round metal cake pan.  In a wok, place a steaming rack (or rig up a donut made of aluminum foil).  Pour water into the wok (enough that it won’t boil dry in 15 min, but not so much that it covers the steaming rack/aluminum donut) and heat until simmering.  Place the metal cake pan (with the fish inside) on top of the steamer rack and cover the wok.  Steam for 15 min for an approx 1-pound fish.

1 whole fish (tilapia, sea bass, or other fish, about 1 to 1.5 pounds)
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
5 green onions, thinly sliced
soy sauce
vegetable oil

Place the fish in a metal pan.  Take half of the ginger and green onions and stuff the cavity of the fish, and place some ginger and green onions over the top of the fish.

Steam for 15 minutes (see steaming instructions above) in a wok over simmering water.

Remove pan from wok (fish should flake easily).  Carefully move the fish to a plate, removing the steamed ginger and scallions.  Pour soy sauce to taste over the fish.

Empty and dry wok.  Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in wok until shimmering.  Add remaining ginger and green onions and fry for 30 seconds until aromatic.  Pour hot oil and aromatics over the fish.  Serve immediately (with steamed rice).

2 comments to Cantonese Steamed Whole Fish

  • Kim

    I love the Food Republik site. Best of luck with your new blog and new home and new baby!
    I have a recipe site for leftovers called Even though you may not be posting to Food Republik anymore, the content here is awesome. I’d like to add a link to this site on my links page, if you wouldn’t mind. Please let me know if it’s alright with you at
    P.S. the tile in your laundry room is the same tile we had in our kitchen :)
    Thanks! and Congratulations!

  • OMG, this looks delicious!!