Asian Recipes

Steamed Whole Snapper With Black Beans & Chilli

June 24, 2016

2 Servings (as a main), 4 Servings (as part of a banquet)
Prep Time
Cook Time
Difficulty Level
1 / 5

A whole steamed fish represents togetherness, making this flavourful dish great for family meals and part of feasts for festive occasions.




Bring a large saucepan or wok of water to the boil.


Pat fish dry with kitchen paper and place on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife, make four diagonal slits on one side of the fish. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side. Place fish in a shallow heatproof bowl that will fit inside a steamer basket. Combine ginger, garlic, black beans, chilli flakes and sugar in a bowl and spread mixture evenly over the fish, pressing it into the slits. Tuck the onion lengths into the belly and pour the wine or sherry over the entire fish.


Place bowl inside steamer and cover with the lid. Position over the pan or wok of boiling water and steam for 8 mins or until fish is cooked. The flesh should be white; if it is still translucent, cook for another min or so.


Carefully transfer cooked fish to a serving platter. Pour all the cooking juices over the fish, along with the soy sauce, and scatter with the extra onion.


Heat oil in a small saucepan until smoking hot, then pour over the fish to scald and sear the onion. Serve immediately.

Kylie’s tips: There are many different ways in the Chinese kitchen to dress a steamed fish. This dressing is made from salted black beans, chilli, ginger and garlic, and its pungent flavour seeps right into the flesh of the fish during the cooking process. The resulting juices are amazingly delicious soaked up with steamed rice.

Photo: John Paul Urizar/