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15-Minute Steamed Fish

This easy recipe for This Chinese Style Steamed Fish is spectacularly delicious and healthy. It comes together in just 15 minutes and you don’t even need a steamer. We’ll show you how to steam the most succulent fish fillets in the microwave!

Swai fish fillets with sauce in baking dish for Chinese steamed fish
Chinese Steamed Fish is not only healthy, but teeming with flavor!

Steamed Fish Without a Steamer

When people proclaim they don’t like any fish due to a fishy aftertaste, it’s probably because their fish either wasn’t fresh or it wasn’t cooked right. It could be a bad cut. If fish tastes fishy, something is not right. Please, nobody be mad or TP my house 😇 Being an Asian American raised in Southern CA, we basically lived on all the seafood all my life. Steaming hot, aromatic, stunningly flavorful fish was on the dinner table every week.

The best Asian steamed fish involves fresh whole fish and big steamers. In downtown L.A. markets, that means doing some high-jumping plyometrics among a chaos of grandmas in order to get the fish guy’s attention, followed by brazenly pointing to the live red snapper you want for supper. Thankfully, you don’t have to do any of that. This is my toned-down, Monday night version of Asian steamed fish that’s so easy and tasty, it’ll knock your plyos off…

Why This Recipe Stands Out

  • This 15-Minute Ginger Soy Asian Steamed Fish is based on the whole-fish recipes I grew up on, but way more manageable for weeknights.
  • There are no fish heads, tails, nor bones to mess with.
  • It’s so delicious, it doesn’t even need the classic hot oil drizzle at the end, which saves a load of calories.
  • You do not need a steamer. Repeat: no steamer needed.
  • Do you have a microwave and 6 minutes? Then you’re all set.

Key Ingredients

  • White Fish Fillets- it’s important that they’re about 1-inch thickness throughout.
  • Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce or Tamari sauce, which is naturally lower in sodium.
  • Asian Sesame Oil – be sure to get the Asian toasted sesame oil, which is darker brown and highly aromatic.
  • Rice Cooking Wine – we love this Shaoxing one.
  • Fresh Ginger – thinly sliced into matchstick slivers
  • Granulated Sugar – a bit of sweet is important to offset the savory.
  • Garlic Powder – you can opt for minced fresh garlic instead.
  • White Pepper – white pepper has a brighter, sharper, and earthy flavor compared to black pepper.
  • Freshly Chopped Cilantro Leaves, for fragrant garnish
  • Thinly Sliced Green Onions, for more aromatic garnish

Key Tips for Success

  • Always use clean paper towels to pat dry fish fillets completely, removing as much excess moisture as possible, prior to seasoning.
  • Be sure to use a mild-flavored, flaky white fish, such as basa/swai, haddack, sole, flounder, or tilapia.
  • If using a thinner fish fillet, such as tilapia, lessen the cook time.
  • For thicker fillets, microwave for 6 minutes on high. For thinner fillets, cook about 4 minutes.
  • Actual cook time will vary depending on the thickness of fish fillets. Start off with less cook time, and add more minutes as needed.
  • Double-wrap the dish with cling wrap, in order to form a strong and tight seal, allowing fish to steam in the microwave.
Swai fish fillets with sauce in baking dish for Chinese steamed fish
Serve Chinese steamed fish over jasmine rice and your choice of vegetables on the side.

What to Serve with Chinese Steamed Fish

commonly Asked Questions

What type of fish is commonly used in Chinese steamed fish?

In Chinese cuisine, whole fish with firm and tender flesh are commonly used for steaming. Some popular choices include whole tilapia, sea bass, red snapper, and grouper. However, we use fish fillets for easy weeknight dinners.

What are some common seasonings and sauces used for Chinese steamed fish?

Common seasonings and sauces used for Chinese steamed fish include soy sauce, ginger, garlic, green onions, cilantro, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine), and white pepper. These ingredients collectively provide a fragrant, aromatic flavor profile that eaters love.

How long should I steam the fish?

he steaming time depends on the size and thickness of the fish. As a general guideline, for a medium-sized whole fish, steaming for about 8 to 10 minutes should be sufficient. The flesh should be opaque and you should be able to flake it with a fork easily when cooked. It takes only half the time to microwave-steam fish fillets.

Can I add vegetables or other ingredients to the steamed fish?

es, you can add vegetables such as bok choy, Napa cabbage, or mushrooms to the dish for added flavor and nutrition. Place the vegetables around the fish during steaming so they can absorb the flavors from the fish and seasonings.

More to cook and eat

Video: Watch us Make Swordfish

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Swai fish fillets with sauce in baking dish for Chinese steamed fish

Steamed Fish, Chinese Style

4.96 from 49 ratings
This super easy recipe for Ginger Soy Asian Steamed Fish is spectacularly delicious and healthy. It comes together in just 15 minutes (or less) and you don’t even need a steamer.
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

Instructions

  • Dry fish fillets thoroughly with paper towels – this step is important to ensure flavors don't become diluted from excess water. Place fish in a single layer in a 9×13 glass dish or other large microwavable dish.
    swai fish fillets in a dish for chinese steamed fish recipe
  • In a bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients (except for cilantro and green onions) until well combined. Pour evenly over the fish, ensuring that both sides of fillets are coated with sauce. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro and green onions on top of fillets.
    Sauce for chinese steamed fish
  • Tightly cover dish with two layers of cling wrap. Microwave on high for 4-6 minutes, depending on thickness of your fish; if your microwave doesn't have a turntable, be sure to rotate the dish halfway into cook time. If needed, add another 1-2 minutes of cook time; cooked fish should be firm and flaky at the center. Carefully remove cover and serve immediately.
    Swai fish fillets with sauce in baking dish for Chinese steamed fish

Notes

  • It’s important to use the right kind of fish. A mild, semi-firm, somewhat flaky white fish is best. Use 1-inch-thick fillets of: sea bass, flounder, halibut, or snapper (also known as rockfish), or swai. Cod may work if you can get good fillets that are at least 1-inch thick.
  • I used toasted black sesame seeds for garnish. Feel free to use regular sesame seeds, if you’d like. 
  • We use reduced sodium tamari soy sauce, as it’s more pure in flavor and gluten-free.
  • For a super healthy meal, serve with Air Fryer Broccoli and Perfect Brown Rice
  • If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ❤️

Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 598mg | Potassium: 609mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: Asian
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Lactose
Method: Microwave, Steaming

Add a comment

Recipe Rating




19 comments

    • mr christopher v mason
    • 4 stars

    4 STARS AT LEAST! For a quick recipe that works so well even if you are not an every week fish cook

      • Amy Dong

      So glad you liked this!

    • MC
    • 5 stars

    I usually don’t like cooking fish at home because it never tastes as fresh or flavorful as going to an authentic Asian restaurant. This recipe is iconic though. So fresh, soooo flavorful. Really appreciate you sharing this recipe with the world. It has become a staple for my partner and I! ♥️

      • Amy Dong

      Awww, that makes me so happy! 🙂 🙂

    • Abby

    What is the wattage of your microwave? Mine is 1200w.

    • Wendy
    • 5 stars

    This fish was super easy and despite being a little nervous about cooking in microwave, it came out perfect! Followed cooking time exactly… but did doctor the sauce/marinade a tad. I’m not a fan of spicy stuff so after making as the recipe dictated, I just added some honey and a squeeze of lime to mellow out the soy and spice. It was delish!

      • Amy Dong

      So happy you liked it, Wendy! 🙂

    • Nicole

    Can you please clarify how many ounces of fish is a serving? When looking at the nutrition, it states 1G is a serving.

      • Amy Dong

      Updated to 1 serving instead of 1 gram. The actual ounces will depend on the type and size of fish you use, but it is roughly 4-6 oz. Enjoy!

    • Alexanna

    What would you serve with this?

      • Amy Dong

      It’s delish with jasmine rice or even brown rice 🙂

        • Alexanna
        • 5 stars

        Thank you!

        We absolutely loved this dish! I served it with basmati in the end (all I had), sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and then the sauce drizzled all over. Pak Choi on the side… delicious 🙂

    • Shrier Barbara

    Can this be made in the oven?

      • Amy Dong

      You can definitely bake this, though they’ll have more of a baked texture vs steamed.

    • Dee
    • 5 stars

    I made this for dinner tonight. It was fast and my husband and I loved it. This will be in the lineup for quick weeknight meals. Thank you!

    • Radhika Sachdev
    • 5 stars

    This recipe is amazing ! It’s absolutely delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. It’s definitely going to be a keeper in our house.

      • chewoutloud

      So happy your family likes this dish 🙂

    • Leigh Barker
    • 5 stars

    This was very easy and very good! We used Halibut!

      • chewoutloud

      We love halibut, too! 🙂

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