Fish is a must-have dish in the Chinese new year’s eve dinner table because yu (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like ‘surplus’. I named this dish 年年有余 to wish you a big increase in prosperity.
Cantonese Steamed Fish (清蒸鱼)
To Marinade the fish
- A whole fish 1.7 pounds
- 4 cloves of garlic sliced
- 2 inches of ginger diced
- 3 scallions cut into 2 inches long pieces
- 2-3 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine
To steam the fish
- 3 inches of ginger cut into thick strips to put under the fish
- 4 scallions cut into 2.5 inches long strips to put under the fish while steaming
- 1 inch of ginger sliced thinly, to put in between the cuts of the fish while steaming
To garnish and season the fish
- 1 tbsp of Shredded ginger for garnish
- 2 scallion thinly julienned, for garnish
- A small piece of red pepper thinly julienned, for garnish
- 3-4 tbsp of hot oil
- 3-4 tbsp of seasoned soy sauce for seafood or Japanese sushi soy sauce
- Get the freshest fish possible because it determines the final result. Scale the fish, open up the belly, remove the guts, gills, and rinse everything out. You can ask the butcher to do all these steps for you.
- Slice a deep cut along the backbone. Make a few cuts on the thick part of the fillet (both sides). The purpose is to make sure the fish cooks evenly.
- Use paper towels to absorb the moisture. Use the smashed&roughly diced ginger, garlic slices, scallion stalks, and Chinese cooking wine to rub the fish for 5 minutes. Do not add salt at this point; otherwise, the meat will not turn out as tender.
- Let the fish sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to warm up a little bit before we steam it.
- Fill a steamer pot with at least 2.5 liters of water and bring it to a full boil.
- Remove all the aromatics from the fish. Use paper towels to dab it dry thoroughly. Stick some new ginger slices in between the cuts.
- Place some ginger strips and scallion stalks on a plate. Lay the fish on the top. The ginger and the scallion at the bottom helps with the air circulation so your fish will be cooked evenly.
- Put the fish into the steamer pot and steam on high heat (see the timing scale below).1.2~1.3 lbs - 8 minutes; 1.4~1.5 lbs - 9 minutes; 1.6~1.7 lbs - 10 minutes; 1.8~1.9 lbs - 11 minutes.
- When the fish is done steaming, turn off the heat. Don't open the lid immediately. Leave it in the steamer for a couple of minutes.
- Take it out. Test it by poking a chopstick at the thickest part, and it should go through easily without resistance.
- Transfer the fish gently to a new and clean plate. Put the ginger, scallion, and red pepper shreds on top of the fish.
- Heat 3-4 tbsp of vegetable oil until it is smoking. Pour it over the aromatics.
- Pour 3-4 tbsp of steamed fish soy sauce all over, this is a special soy sauce that is made for Cantonese steamed seafood. It is sweeter and less salty compared to regular soy sauce. If you don’t have it. You can use Japanese sushi soy sauce instead.