porgy with ginger and scallions ready to steam

Steamed fish part 2: Steamed porgies with ginger and scallions

Here is the link to steamed fish part 1.

So, on to steamed porgies with ginger and scallions.

I did my best to recreate a recipe that was given to me months ago by a friend as we sat in a Chinese restaurant. We had just dug our chopsticks into a plate of steamed whole fish with ginger and scallions, and I lamented that I’d always wanted to make this at home.

Simple, she said, and then she rattled off her family recipe.

Of course, I didn’t write it down or anything so practical as that.

And now it was months later, and I had a fish staring up at me. I did my best to recreate her recipe. I’m not sure if I got it exactly right, but the results were delicious and my kids especially like the sauce on their rice.

In the comments on part one, there were questions about the pan.
Here is the pan I use. You just need something big enough to fite the plate inside.
steaming pan for fish

steamed porgy with ginger and scallions

Here's the recipe.

Steamed whole fish with ginger and scallions

Note: You will need a big steamer for this. (Or a wok with a rack for steaming, but I've never done it that way.) The steamer should be wide enough to put a whole fish on a plate inside and still have room for the steam to come up around the plate. You can buy these at most Asian grocery stores. I bought mine at the Asian Market on Colvin Avenue in Albany.

(If you don't have a steamer, it might work to bake it covered in the oven, I haven't tried that, though.)

1 large porgy, or medium red snapper, or any other sweet-fleshed fish you like. The most important part is that it is as fresh as possible.

10 matchbook strips of fresh-cut ginger, peeled
½ cup scallions, cut into long thin strips, whites only
1/3 cup Chinese cooking wine
1/3 - 1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup oil

Was fish well in salt water. (I let it soak for 30 minutes if I have the time.) Rinse and pat dry.

Score the fish three times on each side. Stuff the slices with the ginger strips. Place the fish in a deep, heat-proof plate. Pour the Chinese cooking wine into the bottom of the plate. Sprinkle the scallions on top.

Boil a couple of inches of water in the steamer. Then put the plate in and cover. Cook about 10-12 minutes. (Until fish is white and starting to flake.)

While the fish is cooking, heat the oil to very hot, but not smoking.

Use a wide spatula to carefully remove the fish. Put it on a deep platter. Pour the cooking juices around it.

Then pour the oil over the fish. (It should crackle a little). Then pour the soy sauce over the fish. Top with fresh scallions if you like.

Serve with rice. The sauce is wonderful.



I LOVE Chinese steamed fish! This looks absolutely delicious and I can't wait to try it. How much oil?

I really enjoy your blog. The pictures and narratives are awesome, please keep writing!

Sorry about the missing oil. My computer crashed as I was writing that post, and I had to rewrite it in a hurry. I heated about 1/3 cup of oil. There was a bit left in the pan after I poured it over the fish. I just poured slowly and let it lightly coat the fish.

Can you tell me more about washing in salt water and letting it sit for 30 minutes? what is this about?

I learned to do this from the Middle Eastern and African women with whom I often cook. This is how they freshen fish (and other meat). They make some of the best fish I've ever tasted, so I am happy to follow their lead.

It is basically a light brine. With meats, the brine is heavier and longer. The best way I can describe it is that it sweetens the meat just a bit.

If I were standing on the beach with a fish just plucked from the sea, I'm not sure I would bother. But for fish from the market, that's what I do.

Hi this looks delicious and i want to try and make it but what kind of chinese cooking wine do you use? thank you so much!


I just use whatever basic Chinese cooking wine I happen to have from the Asian grocery store. The only English on the bottle says Chinese Cooking Wine or some such. Sake would work just fine as well.

I really wanted to make this fish but I didn't have Chinese cooking wine.... I went for regular cooking wine and it was good. I am definitely going to purchase the wine and try again.

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