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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 put some sugar in as well…. like 1/2 tbsp

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  3. hey, chanced upon your blog by accident and have since been my favourite “to-go-to” when looking for recipe.

    do you mind posting the bottle of sour plum u used for steaming fish? i saw so many types in the asian grocery store that i do not know which is good.



    • Hi jonie, sorry for the late reply as I just came back from an overseas trip. I’m using Woh Hup brand of “salted plums” and you can find it at NTUC and Cold Storage (Singapore). I will update this post with a photo after I purchased a new bottle, just ran out of it.

      Updated (5 Mar 2010): just added photo of my bottle of salted plums. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi! wiffy, i am so excited when i see yr website. I am an idiot as far as cooking is concern. Yr guide really save my life. Thank you so much!

  5. I’m so glad you added this recipe; me being of Teochew origin, I figured it’s high time I start adding a little Teochew cookery into my repertoire. Thanks; looks gorgeous!

  6. hihi, what kind of fish is this? What kind of fish is good for this recipe? have no idea how to buy fish..hehe


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  8. i am trying this today but i cant find all e ingredients from walmart.. hope it will turn out fine.. n i dun have a big wok so i m using e biggest pot i can find but my glass plate sit juz nice on top.. ><

  9. Hi, love this receipe! I am trying this from singapore and is it a tablespoon of soya sauce as with the salted veg, it got a tad over salty and i had to add quite a bit more water but it ended up too soupy. Also, does the fish need to be marinated? Thanks!

  10. Hi, can I steam the fish on a corelle plate using either rice cooker or a wok? Pls advise thank u!

    • Hi, yes you can use a corelle plate. I usually use my wok as a steamer for my steam fish. You can use a rice cooker if you can fit the plate in.

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