Cantonese Steamed Fish Recipe: Whole Tilapia On The Table!

This Cantonese-style steamed fish recipe is a real treat. I know most Americans are not too keen on eating a fish while its eyes stare sadly at them. But in Hong Kong, it is a tradition to serve the fish whole, including the head, tail, skin and bone and all. A whole fish signifies good luck, it represents family togetherness and completeness. 

I wouldn't cook a fillet in the style of this recipe, it just wouldn't be the same. Keeping the fish on the bone helps to keep it extra moist and tender (like how meat kept on the bone is juicier). A healthy, simple, quick and tasty way to cook any whole fresh white fish. The smoking peanut oil finale is absolutely necessary to bring out the full flavors of the fish!

Steaming is a healthy and delicious way to cook fresh fish. You can taste the delicate, sweet natural flavor of the fish and its very easy to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 1 -1 1/2 lb fresh fish, with the head and tail on (scales removed and insides cleaned)      
  • 2 tablespoon ginger sliced
  • 4 tablespoons of peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup scallions, julienned. 
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce mixed 1/2 teaspoon sugar 
Preparations
  1. Wash and pat dry the fish with paper towel inside and out
  2. Place 1/3 of the gingers in a plate then place fish on top, place the 1/3 in the fish cavity and finally the 1/3 on the top.
  3. Add enough water to the wok then bring to the boil in high heat. When the water is boiling Place the plate on a steam rack in the wok then steam covered for 8-10 minutes
  4. After the fish is cooked, pile on the julienned scallion on the fish . 
  5. Heat up the oil, until it is so  hot it's steaming, Pour the hot oil onto the fish. (The hotter the better to release the scallions' flavor into the sauce.)
  6. Pour the soy sauce sugar mixture on top. Serve hot with hot steamed jasmine rice
Husband Says: "This is one of my favorite dishes. I learned to love full-headed fish dishes in Asia, and once you get over the sad fishy eyes staring at you its really no big deal. This is such a simple recipe, but is very flavorful. Trust me on this, leave the head on."
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    14 comments

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    April 28, 2012 at 11:28 PM delete

    A beautiful presentation and interesting preparation - I've never been served a whole fish (and never tried to cook one), but I'm sure there is a world of difference in flavor between a whole fish and a fish fillet...

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    Marina
    AUTHOR
    April 29, 2012 at 12:17 AM delete

    Great meal, and yes, I agree, it wouldn't taste the same with fillet. When fish is cooked on a bone it has a better taste and rich flavor. Well done! :)

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    Nish
    AUTHOR
    April 29, 2012 at 8:35 AM delete

    I love steamed fish and I totally agree that cooking it another way than whole doesn't do these sort of dishes any justice!

    Also beautiful photo :)

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    Alida
    AUTHOR
    April 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM delete

    Excellent! This looks ever so tasty. Makes it a yummy meal. Take care X

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    anne
    AUTHOR
    April 29, 2012 at 9:29 AM delete

    Wonderful dish ! I haven't had a steamed fish for quiet sometime *sigh* Laugh so hard at your second sentence geeessshhhhh lol Being Asian and a Filipino where fresh or not-so fresh ;D whole fish - fried , steamed or stew is always on the table , I guess I'm immune to its eyes staring sadly at me ! Sorry fish ! :D

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    Zoka
    AUTHOR
    April 29, 2012 at 12:57 PM delete

    Chinese steamed fish is so delicious and great to go with rice. I love your presentation. :)

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    Elpiniki
    AUTHOR
    April 30, 2012 at 4:38 AM delete

    Sounds really good and looks even better! I love your pics!

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    Jenn Kendall
    AUTHOR
    April 30, 2012 at 2:49 PM delete

    these sounds seriously delicious!

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    Tina Bk
    AUTHOR
    May 1, 2012 at 7:44 AM delete

    Asian cuisine does have a lot of amazing fish recipes. They do know how to bring out the best flavor and this recipe is a perfect example of that-yum! I have never really prepared fresh fish-I am too far inland now, but I miss living in the Gulf of Florida.
    Great presentation and no doubt delicious!

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    Elisabeth
    AUTHOR
    May 1, 2012 at 11:49 AM delete

    I've never even seen a whole Tilapia, Carmen...not alone making one. Steaming fish is such a perfect Asian method. The sauce is gorgeous with it, and the presentation is SUPERB! I would love to try this, but have to pre-order the whole fish from my local seafood market.
    Thanks for sharing!
    xo

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    Soni
    AUTHOR
    May 1, 2012 at 11:52 AM delete

    What a co-incidence Carmen!Even I have posted a fish recipe :)Great minds do think alike :)Your Tilapia looks absolutely delicious!!I love the Asian flavors and have had it a few times in restaurants!!Love the presentation :)

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    Jamie
    AUTHOR
    May 21, 2012 at 4:05 PM delete

    Nice presentation and delicious dish. Tilapia fish are meaty and tasty. alaska salmon fishing lodges

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    Monika Borua
    AUTHOR
    November 14, 2012 at 7:32 PM delete

    Very nice and informative blog posting. Among all the fish, tilapia fish is Awesome! Tilapia fish farming is very profitable and easy. I like this fish very much for it's unique taste and nutritional value.

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    Merry Whitney
    AUTHOR
    May 16, 2013 at 7:36 AM delete

    Dosen't poring all that oil on the fish defeat the purpose of steaming the fish.

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