Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hong Kong Style Steam Fish

Pic: At 7 AM

Pic: At 12 PM

Have you ever been to a Cantonese Seafood Restaurant and never order their most famous Hong Kong Style Steam Fish? If yes then you really miss a good thing!

Most of the time when we went to a Cantonese seafood restaurant we will order this dish. Maybe it is the simplest thing on the menu but in this case, simple is better.

The type of fish that they like to use for this dish usually is grouper. It's delicate, fresh and flavorful flesh is really best for this dish.

Off course you can always use any grouper but if you can your hands on a live grouper than you are in for a treat.

A short background on why I wrote this entry is because my mom's friends told her about 2 new places where she can get good fish. The first being frozen John Dory fillets that is being sold at a store called " Organic ", a new store/restaurant that only offer organic food. I do admit they have good frozen John Dory fillets. I cook those fillet by sprinkling a mixture of salt, pepper, flour, bread crumbs, herbs and ground almond. Cook them with a mixture of butter and olive oil. When they are done, I spritz some lemon first before I eat them. Yum!

The second place is actually inside a Soto restaurant. Every morning my parents and R always went to walk together. I never go with them because I can't wake up at 4 AM!!!! So after they walk together, my mom told R to drive her to that new fish store.

They brought home a 1.4 Kg live Grouper in a plastic bag with no water in it. Then my father just pretty much dropped the fish to the floor at our dining room and let my kids play with it. Amazingly it still alive! It was alive long enough without water until my son has to go to school and he asked us to put the fish on a big bucket with water and salt since Grouper is a salt water fish. To placate him , we did what he asked us to do. But my maid manage to over-salting the water by throwing a very large amount of salt into the water.

The clock just keep on ticking and that fish somehow manage to stay alive from 6 AM ( when they bought it ) until 2 PM before it was finally going belly up!

So I took it off the water and place it in the fridge. When it is close to dinner time, I asked my maid to clean and gut the fish while I prepare the steaming sauce.

Steamed seafood is the most common dish in Cantonese cuisine. Basically all marine fishes can be steamed like this, whilst the freshness and size of fish would be reflected in the taste and chew directly.

Freshly dressed live fish might have blisters in the skin after steaming, which is quite normal as the flesh and the skin might shrinks to different extents. If the fish has no blisters or the flesh is not very white after steaming, it might not be very fresh.

Make sure the water is boiling vigorously when you put the fish in. The fish needs to be cooked rather quickly all over instead of warming up slowly with cold water. The freshness of the fish can be retained this way.

Steamed Hong Kong Grouper

600g Grouper ( in my case it is double, so I double the sauce too )

Shredded spring onions, coriander/cilantro.

75 g peanut oil
150 g soy sauce for steamed fish ( I double the amount into 300g of soy sauce )


  1. Gut the grouper. Wash well. Slash on the flesh if the fish is over 900 g.
  2. Place a pair or more of bamboo chopsticks on a plate. Put the fish on top of the chopsticks. This is to ensure the bottom side of the fish gets the same heat by steam. Dribble some oil on fish for smoother texture.
  3. Bring water in a steamer to the boil. Put in fish and steam for 8 minutes. Insert a bamboo skewer into the fleshiest part of the fish. It the skewer can be inserted to the bone easily the fish is cooked. Otherwise, steam for 1 - 2 minutes more and check for doneness.
  4. Remove bamboo chopsticks under the fish. Drain the liquid on the plate. Sprinkle shredded spring onion on fish. Heat oil ( very hot! ) and pour it over the fish. Be careful when you do this because the oil can splatter. Heat up some soy sauce for steamed fish. Pour on the side of the fish ( and not over it! ). Lastly put coriander on top. Serve. ( Top quality fish has snow white flesh and it is important to present it as such to the guests. Pouring soy sauce over the fish would darken the flesh and ruin the look! ).
Soy Sauce For Steamed Fish


80 ml chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
40 ml supreme light soy sauce

Bring the above ingredients to the boil. It makes enough sauce for a fish weighing 600 g.

The quality of soy sauce for steamed fish depends on the quality of light soy sauce. If you already spend so much money buying the fresh fish, you might as well buy the best soy sauce in the market.

INFO: I will keep this entry updated as soon as I can get the full address of the 2 fish stores. For now all I can say is that " ORGANIC " is located across of SuperMal in those expensive looking "ruko" area. I think the other fish store that is inside a soto restaurant is at Jl.Kusuma Bangsa. For the exact address please read this entry again because I will put them in here.

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