Steamed Snapper in Soya Sauce

13 Feb
(serves 2)
Steamed fish is a relatively healthy way of cooking fish, and when done in the ‘Cantonese’ style is much more tastey then you might imagine. My technique is a fusion method which incorporates the ease of Western cooking, and you won’t even need a steamer or any form of steaming cookware. You also won’t have to worry about over or under cooking your fish.  
  1. Snapper Fillet (2 x 160g)
  2. Chives (6 stalks)
  3. Corriander (2 bunches)
  4. Garlic (6 cloves = 1/2 bulb)
  5. Light Soya Sauce
  6. Sesame Oil
  7. Chinese Wine


  1. The type and quality of fish is important when steaming. You can use fish which has been chilled but never fish that has been frozen. Besides Snapper, other species of fish with meat of the same smooth crisp texture and consistency, such as Garoupa, are also suitable. Start by bringing your fish fillets to room temperature by soaking them in luke-warm water.
  2. Julienne the chives (also called spring onion in some places) into 1/4 inch bits keeping the solid/white bits seperate from the leafy/green bits. Cut the root portion off the corriander but otherwise leave the sprigs as they are. When you are done you should have something like what is shown in the picture.
  3. Peel and put through a garlic press 6 cloves of garlic.
  4. Mix 3T of light soya sauce, 2T of Chinese Wine, 1T sesame oil, 1t sugar and 1/4 cup water in a bowl .
  5. Fry the white portion of chives with a spot of oil in a frying pan till they begin to brown. Make sure you use a pan which has a cover.
  6. When your chives are ready, let the pan cool a bit and then pour the soya mixture into the pan with the green portion of the chives. Set the heat to produce a low simmer and when the soya mixture begins to boil, place your fish fillets in. If your fish still has the skin attached, put it in skin-down so the skin has a chance to interact with the wine before it boils off.
  7. After one minute, flip the fish pieces over and place the corriander on top of the fish (see picture below). Cover and continue to simmer for one minute. After the minute is up, turn the heat off and allow the fish to ‘steam’ for a further 15 minutes with the cover on.
  8. In the meanwhile, fry the garlic in a spot of oil in a seperate pan. When the garlic begins to get darker, turn off the heat and let the residual heat of the pan continue to darken the garlic till it reaches a gloden brown.
  9. When the fish has finished ‘steaming’, put aside the corriander. Plate the fish and spoon the soya liquid over it. Next spoon the garlic together with its oil on the fish and finally garnish with the corriander.


  • This type of steamed fish is of the ‘Cantonese’ style and is best served with rice. You can of course use staples such as (unsalted) mashed potatoes or polenta instead.
  • If your fish fillets are thin, you can reduce the 2 boiling phases to 30 seconds each to prevent over cooking.
  • There are two main types of soya sauce, make sure you use the Light soya sauce (as opposed to Dark or Aged soya sauce).
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Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Main Courses, Recipe, Seafood


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