Sizzling Ginger Steamed Fish – named as such because the ginger and green onion topping sizzles dramatically when you pour hot oil over oven steamed fish! An incredibly simple way to make a healthy fish recipe a whole lot more exciting with fresh Asian flavours.
Sizzling Ginger Steamed Fish
Does anybody jump up and down with excitement at the thought of steamed fish for dinner? Healthy , yes. But also….kinda bland….
I know, I know, I really need to grow up. I can already see my mother rolling her eyes when she reads this. 😂
However, today’s Sizzling Ginger Fish is a steamed fish recipe I DO get excited about!
It’s a simpler version of a Cantonese dish where a whole fish is steamed, drizzled with soy sauce then hot oil is poured over a green onion and ginger topping which makes it sizzle dramatically. If you’re a whole fish kind of person (and every chef will tell you it’s the best way to cook fish) here’s my recipe, pictured below.
Traditional Cantonese whole Sizzling Ginger Fish which today’s recipe is based
Today, I’m sharing an easier version. Same flavours and the same dramatic sizzling (I was never going to give that up!). Except we’re using fish fillets and steaming them in the oven inside foil packets. Which means – less washing up. Excellent!
That dramatic hot oil sizzle!
The key step in this recipe is the hot oil drizzle. Just 1 tablespoon per fillet, and 3 important things happen:
the hot oil semi-cooks the green onion and ginger which also flavours the oil itself;
it gently sears the surface of the fish; and
the oil runs off the fish into the foil boat to mingle with the soy sauce, sesame oil, cooking sake and fish juices to create an extraordinarily tasty sauce.
Excessive squidging of every bite of fish in that tasty sauce is not only strongly encouraged, it’s an essential part of the eating experience!
Ingredients in Sizzling Ginger Steamed Fish
Here’s what you need to make this.
Fish type and shape – More delicate white fish fillets, skinless. Thin fillets recommended, around 1.5cm / 2/3″ thick (at the thickest point), for better sizzling surface area to fish ratio. The recipe does work fine with thicker fillets but the bake time will be longer than the 12 minutes per the recipe.
Great fish for this recipe – barramundi, snapper, basa, jewfish, blue eye cod (trevalla), tilapia, cod, halibut, pollock, hake, John Dory, silver dory, gummy shark (flake). I think salmon and trout are a little too strong flavoured – though the recipe will work fine.
Meatier, firmer fish like ling and monkfish work fine but personally for this dish, I think it’s better with slightly softer white fish fillets (better sauce dispersion throughout flakes).
Remember, the shape of fish means that you get thick cuts from the main body as well as thin cuts from towards the tail. Opt for the thinner cuts!
Frozen fish works just fine, thaw then pat dry well before using.
Fish to avoid
I recommend avoiding:
Fish that dry out easily when cooked – Like swordfish, tuna, bonito, kingfish, marlin, mackerel. Unless you’re extremely careful they can become dry inside so are very prone to overcooking in the oven. I feel these fish are (mostly) better in raw/rare form such as Ceviche, Poke Bowls, Tartare (also see Tuna Steak);
Oily, “fishy” fish – Like mullet and sardines (try this recipe for sardines!).
The sizzling sauce & toppings
The sesame oil, soy and cooking sake are the seasonings. The ginger and green onion are the fresh aromatics, the red chilli is for colour and a hint of warmth (entirely optional). The oil creates the sizzle – when poured over the ginger and green onion!
Cooking sake – This is Japanese sake intended for cooking purposes (not pleasant to drink). Like Chinese cooking wine, white and red wine used in Western cooking, it adds a touch of depth of flavour that you can really only get from alcohol.
Find it in the Asian aisle of large grocery stores, and Asian stores. If you can’t consume alcohol, just leave it out.
Soy sauce – Use light or all-purpose soy sauce. Do not use dark soy sauce, too intense!
Sesame oil (toasted) – Use toasted sesame oil which is brown and has more flavour than untoasted (which is yellow). Default sesame oil sold in Australia is toasted, untoasted is harder to find.
Peanut oil – Or any other neutral flavoured oil.
Ginger – Fresh ginger, julienned finely (ie very fine batons) so they partially cook when the hot oil is poured over!
Green onion – The green part only, finely sliced on the diagonal. We only use the green part because it’s more delicate so it too partially cooks when the hot oil is poured over.
Red chilli is for visual purposes mainly and a touch of warm spice (large chillies are not that spicy). Feel free to omit.
How to make Sizzling Ginger Fish
Foil packets serve a double purpose – all the moisture is locked inside as the fish steams gently, plus minimal washing up!
Season fish – Place a ~25cm/10″ sheet of foil on a work surface and top with a piece of paper that is slightly smaller, as pictured. Put the fish on the paper, sprinkle each side with a pinch of salt and pepper then drizzle the top only with the cooking sake.
Paper packet – Wrap the fish up in the paper first, folding the seams to seal. No need to be a present-wrapping master here, just as long as it’s mostly sealed to keep in the steam!
Foil packet – Then wrap the paper packet up with the foil.
Bake – Place the foil packets on a tray and bake for 12 minutes at 200°C/400°F (180°C fan) or until the internal temperature is 55°C/130°F. I pierce thermometer through foil. If you don’t have a thermometer, just open the packet and ensure the fish flesh flakes.
12 minutes?! Is that long enough? Yes it is, if you have a fairly thin fillet around 1.7cm / 2/3″ thick that weighs 180g/6 oz. Thin fish cooks fast when enclosed!
Rest 3 minutes – Remove fish from the tray and put on dinner plates. Open the packets – careful of hot steam! Scrunch/fold down the sides to form a sauce-catching moat around the fish. Leave to rest for 3 minutes while you heat the oil.
Heat oil – Put the oil in a small saucepan or skillet on medium high. Heat the oil up – it will take less than a minute. You don’t need it so hot the oil is smoking. Just hold your hand above the oil and you will feel the heat. Also, oil gets thinner when hot.
Fish toppings – Pile the green onion, ginger and chilli (if using) on each fish. Drizzle over the soy and sesame oil.
Sizzle! Pour the hot oil over the toppings. True to it’s name, it will bubble and sizzle dramatically! As described earlier, the oil cooks / is flavoured by the green onion and ginger and it gently sears the surface of the fish. Then when it settles in the foil boat it mixes up with the soy sauce, sesame oil, cooking sake and fish juices to form part of a tasty sauce that you squidge every bite of fish in.
Now – time to dig in!
Matters of eating Sizzling Ginger Fish
Sizzling Ginger Fish is designed to be eaten out of the foil boat. The idea is that the foil boat holds all the sauce in, and as you break off the tender flakes of fish, you swish it around in the sauce before eating it.
Plus, if you’ve used a good juicy piece of fish, you should actually have plenty of sauce to use for dressing up a bowl of rice on the side to fill out your meal. Add a bowl of instant miso soup (THERE IS NO SHAME) and you’ve got a brilliantly effortless, healthy dinner that’s something a little bit different to the usual.
And look at that! Hardly any dishes to wash up. You kitchen goddess, you. (Or god) – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Sizzling ginger steamed fish
- 2 x 180g/ 6 oz thinnish white fish fillet , skinless (~1.5 cm/ 2/3" thick) (Note 1)
- 1 tsp cooking sake (sub mirin, Chinese cooking wine, dry sherry) (Note 2)
- Small pinch salt
- Small pinch white pepper (sub black)
TOPPING (divide between 2 fish):
- 1/2 cup green onion , green part only, finely sliced on diagonal (Note 3)
- 2 tbsp ginger , finely julienned (Note 3)
- 1 tbsp large red chilli , deseeded finely julienned on diagonal, optional (Note 4)
SAUCE (divide between 2 fish):
- 2 tsp light soy sauce , or all-purpose soy (Note 5)
- 2 tsp sesame oil , toasted
- 2 tbsp peanut oil (or veg, canola, grapeseed)
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F (180°C fan).
- Prepare parcel – Place a 2 x 25cm / 10" piece of foil on a work surface. Top with a piece of parchment/baking paper slightly smaller. Place fish on paper.
- Season fish & wrap – Sprinkle each side of the fish with a SMALL pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle the top of each fish with 1/2 tsp sake. Form a parcel – make a parcel with the paper first, then the foil. (See video or step photos).
- Bake – Place parcels on a tray. Bake for 12 minutes or until the internal temperature is 55°C/130°F (I pierce thermometer through foil) or the fish flesh flakes (open to check). Thin fish cooks fast when enclosed!
- Rest 3 min – Put each parcel on a plate and unwrap, folding down the sides to create a “boat” that will catch the sauce that you can squidge the fish in. Rest for 3 minutes – heat the oil while it rests.
- Heat oil until hot in a tiny saucepan or small pan over medium heat.
- Sizzle! Top the fish with green onion, ginger and chilli. Drizzle with soy and sesame oil. Pour oil all over the green onion and ginger – it will sizzle dramatically!
- Serve immediately. Eat fish out of foil, squidging the flaky pieces well in the sauce before eating. See post for what I served it with!
Life of Dozer
Dozer had a very special guest over on the weekend to make lunch for him – Andy Hearnden (“Andy Cooks”), a professional chef turned social media “mega-star” who has lots and lots of followers on social media (as in, 12 million or so across various platforms!)
I don’t ordinarily connect or network with “big” social media influencers because I’m so focussed on sharing recipes here on my website rather than worrying about social media. Can’t do it all! 🙂 Andy is the first such-person whose message I have responded to. Because despite the insane social media following he has, he’s so normal, humble, down to earth and we have very similar taste in food.
We had a fun day sharing war stories of making a living in the online world, the experience of making a cookbook (he just launched his debut cookbook!) and we also filmed a video together that Dozer stars in! I look forward to sharing it with you.