Monday, April 4, 2011

Thai Style Steamed Fish

I love steamed fish. It's healthy, quick and easy which is perfect when I want to whip up dinner in the shortest amount of time and delicious enough to satisfied my appetite.

My favourite version of this dish is undoubtedly, Thai style steamed fish. This dish is very flavourful; sweet, salty and sour with hints of lemongrass, garlic and chilli. I actually love anything with lemongrass in it. Lemongrass is my favourite herb and cinnamon is my favourite spice. So any food containing lemongrass or cinnamon is irresistable to me. Now, out of the sudden, I'm craving for Dunkin Donut's Cinnamon Dunkin Donut in Brunei...huhu..

Okay...okay...back to the post. The first time I tried this dish was when I dined at a restaurant here in Brunei which is ironically also named "Lemongrass". It was mind-blowingly delicious! Rather than having to dine there just for the steamed fish, My mum and I had a very serious analysis of the dish trying to figure out the ingredients so that I can try to make it at home. It's a habit of mine. If I like something so much, I'll experiment so that I can recreate it at home. So much fun experimenting. So today's recipe is the result of that experiment. The deliciousness is approved and verified by the Phat Baker. :)

Thai Style Steamed Fish

Preparation time: 10 mins
Steaming Time: 15 - 20 mins

Simple Ingredients.


About 1 kg whole fish (trout or sea bass or grouper)*
1 fresh red chili
2 bird's eye chili
2 stalks of lemon grass
1 inch of galangal (Malay: lengkuas)
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp of soy sauce**
Juice of 1 lime
About 2 tbs water
1 tsp of raw sugar (This IS a healthy dish but if you don't have raw sugar, any kind of sugar would do)
Green onions, chopped
extra lime for garnishing
salt to taste

*Please ask the uncle at the fish market to scale and gut the fish for you. Makes life so much easier.

** You can also use fish sauce. But if you are using fish sauce, only use juice of half the lime. I forgot I finished my fish sauce 2 weeks ago so I substituted it with soy sauce.


1. Clean the fish and then pat dry with paper towels. Make diagonal slashes (almost to the bone) inches apart on both sides of fish.
Forgot to make the slashes.

Tip: If you forgot to make the diagonal slashes, steam the fish for an additional 10 mins to ensure the fish is thoroughly cooked. If you notice the fish is uncooked when it's already served on the table, do not fret. Just pop it in the microwave oven for 2 mins. 

2, Rub salt onto the fish and the insides of the fish. (This is my preferred method so that the fish is seasoned evenly)

3. Set fish on a heat-proof plate. Please make sure the plate can fit into your wok. Mix the soy sauce, lime juice, water and sugar in a bowl.

4. Chop the chilies, garlic, lemongrass, galangal and half of the green onions. Mix well.

5. Stuff them into the fish and scatter them all over the surface of the fish.

6. Pour the soy sauce mixture.

7. Finally, add the other half of the chopped green onions and garnish with slices of lime on top.

8. Fill wok with about 2 inches of water. When it comes to a full boil, set the plate on rack set in the wok. Cover tightly.

 Tip: You can use kitchen towels to cover the sides of the wok.

9. Steam for 15-20 minutes. You will know the fish is cooked when the meat is white and doesn't stick to the bone.

10. Serve immediately with plain rice.

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