Malaysian Style Steamed Fish

Malaysian Style Steamed Fish, quickly steamed white fish flavoured with light soy sauce and brown suger topped with ginger, cilantro and chillies

This dish was inspired by a popular KL dish called Steamed Fish Head in a place called Happy Garden. I saw this dish before when I worked there and I still remember people queue for this treat. Though its called fish head the ones they serve is more like half a fish from the body up to the head, they usually prepare this in very hot steamers where the fish is placed in a stainless steel platter and is prepared while you order, they offer it in different flavours like Nyonya, Assam (Tamarind), Minced Ginger, Black Bean and Original. I remember I tried all of them except for the Nyonya as was always sold out.

Today we will make a cross between their original and minced ginger using a whole fish.

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Malaysian Style Steamed Fish

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Raymund
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Chinese


Malaysian Style Steamed Fish, quickly steamed white fish flavoured with light soy sauce and brown suger topped with ginger, cilantro and chillies


  • 1 large fish (snapper, trevally, kahawai or any of your favourite fish.)
  • 4 stalks spring onions, sliced
  • 1 thumb sized ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • chopped cilantro, to garnish


  1. Pat dry the fish with paper towel inside and out then using a knife score fish on each side.
  2. Season fish with salt.
  3. In a bowl combine spring onions, ginger, garlic cloves, chilli, light soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, 1 tbsp of sesame oil and brown sugar.
  4. Place 1/3 of the mixture in a plate then place fish on top, place the 1/3 in the fish cavity and finally the 1/3 on the top.
  5. Place plate in a large work lines with a removable bottom quiche pan or anything that can hold it, you can also use a steamer if you wish but woks heat will be more intense as the volume inside a covered wok is smaller than that of a steamer.
  6. Now add enough water to the wok up until half the height of the quiche pan. Bring to a boil then cover the wok and steam in very high heat 10 minutes or until the fish is nearly cooked, do not overcook, the cooking process will not end once you stop the heat as there is enough heat left on the fish meat to cook the remaining.
  7. While the fish is steaming, heat the peanut oil together with the remaining sesame oil in a saucepan, heat until it nearly reaches its smoking point. Drizzle hot oil over the fish then serve immediately.



6 Responses

  1. Karen says:

    All of the flavors would enhance but not coverup the delicate taste of the fish. I can see why this is a popular dish.

  2. Vasun says:

    Hi Raymund! Actually this a Teochew style steamed fish without the salted cabbage. There are many Teochews in Singapore & Malaysia and so you may now it as such. Most of the time the juices of the steamed fish are thrown out and another hot sauce of ginger,scallions etc. is drizzled over. The steamed ‘juice’ is cloudy so it’s thrown out. This makes a huge difference in the taste as the steamed fish tastes much better with the fresh ‘juices’. Just my 2 cents worth 🙂

  3. Kristy says:

    Steaming a whole fish is on my list of things to do one of these days. I’ve always wanted to try it.

  4. Mary Frances says:

    When I think of steamed fish I usually don’t associate it with bold flavors like the ones in this recipe. Looks great.

  5. I rarely buy a whole fish but when I do, I make steamed fish (more like Chinese style). I read your recipe, and it looks/sounds really delicious. I would love to try this one!

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