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Teochew Steamed Fish

Teochew Steamed Fish
Steamed fish the teochew way – using a whole fish, and with salted vegetables and salted plums

When I posted my easy steamed fish recipe some time back, there were a few comments that my way of steaming the fish is very “Teochew” (note: Teochew is a Chinese dialect group) because I added salted (sour) plums to it. I didn’t realised at that time that it was Teochew style … I’ve always seen salted plums when I ordered steamed fish outside, so I assumed that it is a must-have ingredient and I even bought a bottle for my mum to add to her steamed fish. After I realised that not everyone adds salted plums to their steamed fish, I researched about it and found out that my way of steaming fish does indeed resemble the Teochew style, except that the Teochew version also typically comes with salted vegetables.

I have since learnt to cook my steamed fish the quintessentially Teochew way – using a whole fish, with salted vegetables and salted plums. The taste is really good! :up:

Teochew Steamed Fish
Teochew steamed fish served with porridge

Salted Plums
(updated 5 Mar 2010) Salted Plums – Essential ingredient for Teochew steamed fish

Steamed fish (or all seafood as a matter of fact) has always been a premium item when you order it outside, and the huge mark-up is something which I never understand because to me, steaming fish is relatively simple compared to many other dishes (such as dishes that involve deep-frying, stir frying, or a combination of different techniques) . If you do it at home, not only is it much cheaper (this particular fish cost me S$4.50 from the market, and the other ingredients only adds up an additional dollar or so), it is really easy and the clean up is minimal.

Teochew Steamed Fish

(Serves 2-4)

– 1 medium whole fish (such as white pomfret) – I ask the fishmonger to clean it for me
– 6 slices of ginger
– 1 slice of ginger, cut to thin strips, as thinly as you can
– 1 chilli padi (aka bird’s eye chili), sliced (adjust or omit to your liking)
– 1-2 medium tomato, cut to small wedges
– 2 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thinly
– 80g salted vegetables, sliced thinly (roughly 1 to 1.5cm lengthwise)
– 2 salted plums (see photo above)
– 1 tbsp rice wine (I use mirin) – optional
– 1 tbsp light soy sauce
– 5 tbsp water (adjust according to your preference. For example, if you don’t want any “broth” then lessen the water. Lessen light soy sauce if you’re adding less water)
– spring onions (scallions), sliced thinly to wispy strips (to garnish, optional)

1. Place 2 slices of ginger inside the fish cavity. Place 4 ginger slices, half of the shiitake mushrooms and half of the salted vegetables to line the bottom of a deep plate.
2. Make two diagonal cuts along the body of the fish (the fleshy part) on both sides. Place fish in the plate, on top of the earlier ingredients you added.
3. Drizzle light soy sauce and mirin over the fish. Keep in fridge (covered) for at least 30 minutes if you can.
4. When you are ready to steam the fish, add water and scatter the rest of the ingredients (ginger strips, salted plums, tomatoes, remaining salted vegetables & mushrooms) over the fish and around the plate.
5. Steam on high heat for roughly 15 minutes – the water in the steamer should be boiling before the fish goes in, and the duration stated for steaming should start only from that moment.* Note: The bigger the fish, the longer it takes . Do not over-steam as the meat will become tough. For the fish shown in the photo, it was cooked nicely with 15 minutes of steaming. Garnish with spring onions strips and serve with porridge or rice.

* Thanks to Ju/The Little Teochew for her suggestion to make the instructions clearer :)

Teochew Steamed Fish

Related Recipe:
Easy Steamed Fish (Steaming a small cut of fish)

72 comments on “Teochew Steamed Fish”

  1. I love steamed fish but will normally have it with ginger and shallots. While it is delicious, I get tired of it sometimes. This is a great change I should try soon!

    • This is really simple, do try it out if you can get some salted veg. hope you like it :)

    • Hi hi, loved this receipe. But is it really a tablespoon of light soya sauce? My try was a tad over salty. Tried adding more water but ended up too watery. Hope you can give some advice. Unless i just need more practice… Lol

  2. I haven’t had sayur asin (that is what Indonesians call for salted vegetables) for ages!

    Now, I’m getting hungry

  3. teochew style steamed fish is one of my favorite Chinese dish! love pickled greens too! yummy 8O

  4. This is such a healthy, delicious dish. I have not eaten this type of steamed fish for a long time. I love the sourish taste from the tomato and the salted vegetables.

  5. This looks gorgeous. We love teochew steamed fish as you can really taste the freshness of the fish. Yum yum and beautiful pictures too .. making me salivate now!

  6. I think the most time-consuming and effort-worthy is the preparation of the ingredients. Assembling is easy. Steaming is easy. Eating…heee hee…also easy. I find that steaming salmon with spices is even easier! Hahaha…no cutting/slicing required!

    • haha I do enjoy cutting and slicing coz I find it theraupeutic. Am I weird? :) I haven’t tried steaming salmon before, I always grill, bake or pan-fry it, maybe I should try it out one day!

  7. Another great cooking from you again! Love the steamed fish, I prefer cook it that way because is healthier.

  8. healthy and delicious. My hubby will surely love this recipe..

  9. Oh wow, it does look really delicious! Well done! One thing I’d like to share, if you don’t mind, is that the water in the steamer should be boiling before the fish goes in. And the duration stated for steaming should start only from that moment. Most cookbooks state their recipes that way too. But I knew this from a young age because it was drilled into my head by my dad, a typical Teochew Ah Hia, who was extremely particular about his steamed fish! ;)

    • Thanks Ju for sharing! Actually that was what I did – 15 minutes for steaming only counting the time when the steamer is boiling. But I should have stated it more clearly in my recipe. Thanks a lot for your suggestion, really appreciate it! I’ve edited the instructions to make it clearer :)

  10. I love Teochew steamed fish! The more salted veggie, the better!!

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