Chinese steamed whole fish with ginger shallot is undeniably the most classic and celebrated Cantonese seafood dish. Whether dining out in Chinese restaurants or as home cooking dish, this is definitely a go to dish for many. It is a very simple dish, so easy to make and yet full of flavour. Chinese steamed whole fish dish is also a must have favourite dish for the holiday seasons and on special occasions. Usually included in restaurant banquets for Chinese New Year, Weddings, and birthday.
Preparation of Chinese Steamed Whole Fish
The main ingredient and hero of this Chinese steamed whole fish dish is of course the fish. Using fresh from the tank live fish especially in Chinese restaurants is a popular custom. The traditional sauce ingredients are soy sauce, salt, ground white pepper, and Chinese shaoxing wine. Garnish includes ginger, shallot, and coriander. Many people often make this recipe with fish fillets rather than whole fish.
For my gluten free Chinese steamed whole fish with ginger shallot recipe, whole coral trout is my main ingredient. Likewise, my sauce ingredients are gluten free light soy sauce, sesame oil and ground white pepper. I have also added pan fried crunchy ginger and garlic oil as additional dressing. Furthermore, my garnish include ginger, shallot (spring onion), coriander (cilantro) and red chilli. This naturally gluten free Chinese steamed whole fish recipe is also low carb, corn free, dairy free, egg free and nut free.
You may also like my other Chinese steamed whole fish recipes. Read my recipes for Teochew Steamed Whole Fish and Steamed Whole Fish with Shiitake Mushrooms & Goji Berries.
Popular Types of Fish used for Chinese Steamed Whole Fish
In Australia, there are many popular types of saltwater fish to make Chinese steamed whole fish. Likewise, they are red snapper, silver bream, yellow belly flounder and coral trout. Whereas, for freshwater fish, commonly used whole fish are silver perch and barramundi. Additionally, other popular saltwater fish best used for Chinese steamed whole fish. Specifically, they are pomfret, grouper, flounder, cod, ocean perch, sea bass and red emperor. Freshwater tilapia is also a popular option. If you are unsure, ask your fish monger to recommend a suitable fish substitution.
In addition, purchase whole fish with clear eyes, red or pinkish red gills. As well as glossy skin, firm flesh, and pleasant fresh sea smell.
The Common Coral Trout
The Common Coral Trout (Plectropomus leopardus) is a sought-after premium wild caught tropical reef fish. It is a member of the grouper or cod subfamily Epinephelinae, which is part of the family Serranidae (Rockcods). Despite its name suggests, it is not a trout of any kind.
Coral trout is a firm, moist, white flesh fish with a mildly sweet flavour. It has fleshy fine flakes and few bones. The fish bones are mainly large pin bones and easily removed. Making it especially well suited for Chinese steamed whole fish. In addition, chefs value coral trout in Chinese restaurants. And will steam whole fish with ginger shallot for its stunning appearance. Moreover, many regard coral trout’s cheek meat as the best bits. Steaming equipment that you can use are large wok with lid and steaming rack, steaming pot and bamboo steamer.
During Chinese New Year, we associate red with prosperity and good luck. As a result, sale of red fish are in greater number leading up to and during this festive season.
Nutritional Values of Coral Trout
Coral trout is a white flesh fish with high quality complete lean protein that has all 9 essential amino acids. And coral trout is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Furthermore, coral trout has moderate amount of vitamins. They include vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3, (niacin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and vitamin B1 (thiamine). It also has modest amount of minerals like selenium, zinc, iodine, potassium, phosphorus and calcium.
Health Benefits of Coral Trout
Overall, health Benefits of coral trout may include the following:
- Lower risks of cardiovascular diseases;
- Support and maintain healthy bones and teeth;
- Help build and maintain muscle;
- Boost your body’s immune system; support healthy eyesight;
- Reduce risks of age related macular degeneration disease;
- Promote healthy central nervous system;
- Support healthy brain functions;
- Lower risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease;
- Help manage blood sugar level especially for diabetes;
- Reducing inflammations in the body; and
- Relief symptoms of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Ingredients for Chinese Steamed Whole Fish with Ginger Shallot
Video for Chinese Steamed Fish with Ginger Shallot
Chinese Steamed Whole Fish with Ginger Shallot
- 1.5 kg coral trout cleaned, gutted and descaled by your fishmonger
- Steamed basmati rice to serve
For the Garlic and Ginger Oil:
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 5 inch ginger peeled and cut into fine chopsticks
For the Garnish:
- 2 coriander including stems, roughly chopped
- 3 spring onions sliced into 2 inch pieces lengthwise (white and green parts)
- 1 long fresh red chilli deseeded and finely sliced
- Heat up the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and stir-fry the garlic and ginger until lightly golden on medium low heat. Remove and set aside in a small bowl.
- Make five diagonal cuts across the fleshy part of the fish on both sides. Cut through to the bone.
- Trim the fins and tail with a kitchen scissors.
Preparing the fish for steaming:
- Place the fish in a large deep porcelain plate, scatter ginger on the top and in the gut of the fish. And add some cut spring onions into the gut of the fish.
- DO NOT add seasonings like soy sauce, ground white pepper or sherry on the fish before steaming. Repeat again. NO seasonings of any kind on the fresh fish before steaming!
Steaming the Fish:
- Place a steaming rack in a large wok and fill the wok with one third full of water and bring to a boil.
- Place the fish into the wok and steam on high heat for 25 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Steaming time depends on the size of the fish.
- When fish is ready, sprinkle ground white pepper on the fish.
- Then drizzle the gluten free light soy sauce, garlic and ginger oil on top of the fish.
- Garnish with coriander, spring onion (shallot) and red chilli.
- Drizzle sesame oil all over the top of garnish added.
- Serve immediately with steam rice.