Thai steamed fish

I don’t eat or cook fish at home often enough. And if I do, I would usually steam or braise my fish depending on the type of fish and whether it is a whole fish or a filleted one.

A steamed fish by itself without any sauce or dressing is quite plain and flavourless because the best type of fish for steaming is a “white fish”, and white fish is generally mild-flavoured, often slightly sweet and low in fat. The Chinese prefer their steamed fish to be served in mild soy sauce, usually accompanied with julienned ginger and spring onions in contrast with Thai people who prefer to have their steamed fish with more flavours of spiciness, sourness, saltiness and sweetness. I like them both.

Thai steamed fish

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Print

Impress your friends at your Thai themed dinner party.



  • Fresh whole white fish or fillet
  • 2 large red chili, 2 red bird-eye chili, 4 green bird-eye chili (adjust based on the spiciness you want in the dressing. Tip: remove seeds and membrane inside the chili to reduce the spiciness)
  • 3 fresh limes (6 tablespoons)
  • Thai fish sauce (6 tablespoons)
  • Thai palm sugar (1.5 tablespoons)
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 3 coriander stems (optional. You can leave out if you don’t like coriander)
  • 3 flat parsley stems (optional. You can leave out if you don’t like parsley)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 3 Chinese cabbage leaves
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves


  1. Peel the garlic and remove skins. Chop very finely
  2. Remove the seeds and membrane inside the chilies if you prefer less heat. Then chop all the chilies until they are very fine
  3. With a fine grater, use one hand to press a lime against it to shave some off from the outer layer skin. Be careful not to shave too deep as the white part is too bitter to use in the dressing. This is optional if you prefer to leave out
  4. Squeeze the limes to extract their juice into a small bowl. You need an equal amount to fish sauce for the dressing
  5. Shave a block of plam sugar with a sharp knife or a fine grater. You need to use 1.5 tablespoon. You can skip this step if you buy the paste form of palm sugar. Melt the shaved palm sugar with 1/2 cup of liquid (stock or water) by gently heating it over low-medium heat
  6. Pour the heated liquid into a bowl. Add the chopped garlic, chili, coriander, lime zest and 6 tablespoons of fish sauce and 6 tablespoons of lime juice. Mix through and set aside
  7. Cut the lemongrass stalk into 3 sections and gently bruise them either using a rolling pin or something firm and hard
  8. Crunch the kaffir lime leaves with the palm of your hands
  9. Wash the Chinese cabbage leaves
  10. Place the cabbage leaves first on the bottom of the steaming tray. Then place the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Next place the fish on top
  11. Place some water in a wok deep enough to support a bamboo steamer. Bring the water to boiling temperature
  12. Once water is boiling, place fish in the steamer on top of the wok. Make sure the bamboo steamer is sitting at least 2 inches above the water surface. Steam for 10 minutes or longer depending on what you use to steam the fish and the size of the fish
  13. Once fish is cooked, remove from the steamer and garnish with coriander leaves and parsley leaves. Pour the Thai dressing all over the fish

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: