Steamed Garlic and Ginger Whole Fish

Steaming sustainable sourced fish is probably the easiest, most efficient and healthiest way to cook a whole fish.

Recipe & photo by Chef Dale Sniffen @

Steaming sustainable sourced fish is probably the easiest, most efficient and healthiest way to cook a whole fish.  The trend these days is utilising entire fish, creating minimum waste and shared plate meals. Just imagine presenting a whole steamed fish with asian aromas – what an impact you’ll receive when serving this up!

Here’s a few Chef tips for steaming whole fish:

1. Make sure the fish fits in the steaming basket, if not remove the head section – too easy!!

2. Wash fish in cold water, (sea water works best), pat the fish dry.

3. Score fish with a sharp flexible filleting knife on an angle about 1.5 cm apart.

4. Season fish with salt & pepper inside and out.  Rub the marinate inside and out of the fish.

5.Bring the steaming water to the boil the covering the fish with cabbage leaves, preventing the fish drying out and use tight lid on the steamer.


4 tbsp Vegetable oil + 3 cloves of crushed  Garlic

2cm Crushed fresh Ginger  + 1 red Chilli, finely chopped

2 tbsp Sweet dark soy sauce

1 Kg Whole Scarlet Perch, Silver Bream or Skippy, cold water rinsed

4  Outer Green cabbage leaves, Savoy works best

2 Spring onions finely chopped

3 tbsp Toasted sesame oil


Slowly heat up an small sauté pan on low heat. Add oil, garlic, ginger and chilli, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool down in a small mixing bowl, once cool whisk in soy and set aside.   Prepare the whole fish by scoring just the skin at flesh level at the thickest sections, about 1.5 cm centimetres apart. Season with salt and cracked pepper.  Rub sauce all over the fish, inside and out.

Steaming  (32cm steaming tray)

Place a layer of cabbage leaves on the bottom of a steaming tray and  place whole fish on the cabbage leaves. Cover the top with another cabbage leaves, steam whole fish covered in simmering water for 20 to 25 minutes, after 20 minutes check fish for tenderness.

Remove steamed fish, plate up on a clean wooden board.  For that WOW- factor, sprinkle chopped spring onions on top of the cooked  fish, drizzle hot sesame oil over the fish skin.  Serve with the steamed cabbage , lime cheeks and bowl of steamed rice.