Thai Steamed Fish


20 Minutes


10 Minutes




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


  1. Prepare and chop all the ingredients

  2. Prepare the fish for steaming

  3. Place fish on a heat-proof tray and steam the fish

  4. Make the dressing sauce

  5. Pour dressing sauce over the steamed fish

How to make

Peel the garlic and remove skins. Chop very finely.

Remove the seeds and membrane inside the chilies if you prefer less heat. Then chop all the chilies until they are very fine.

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.

Squeeze the limes to extract their juice into a small bowl. You need an equal amount to fish sauce for the dressing.

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.

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.

Cut the lemongrass stalk into 3 sections and gently bruise them either using a rolling pin or something firm and hard.

Crunch the kaffir lime leaves with the palm of your hands.

Wash the Chinese cabbage leaves.

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
Place some water in a wok deep enough to support a bamboo steamer. Bring the water to boiling temperature.

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.

Once fish is cooked, remove from the steamer and garnish with coriander leaves and parsley leaves. Pour the Thai dressing all over the fish.



Share Recipe


  • fresh whole white fish or fillet 

  • 2 large red chilli, 2 bird-eye red chillies, 4 bird-eye green chillies

  • 3 fresh limes (about 6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice)

  • 6 tablespoons of fish sauce

  • 1.5 tablespoons of palm sugar

  • 1 whole bulb of garlic

  • 3 coriander stems with leaves

  • 3 flat parsley stems with leaves

  • 1 lemongrass stalk

  • 3 Chinese cabbage leaves

  • 6 kaffir lime leaves