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Whole Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallion

Joanne Chang's Whole Steamed Fish + Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Joanne Chang's Whole Steamed Fish + Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down CakeNathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
10 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

For Lunar New Year it is traditional to eat a whole fish because the word for fish in Chinese is similar to the word for surplus. You prepare a whole fish to have good luck in the beginning and end of the New Year as well as throughout the year.

Technique tip: You can gather and prep all the ingredients for the fish the day before and just steam and sizzle day of.


  • 1 cleaned and scaled striped bass, (about 1½ pounds) with head and tail left on
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 3 tablespoons Xiaoxing cooking wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 scallions, green and white parts cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, cleaned and stemmed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil



Wipe fish dry and cut 4 to 6 deep, diagonal cuts along the body on both sides.


Generously salt and pepper both sides of the fish.


Set up a steamer and lay the fish inside and cover with ginger.


Steam the fish for 8-10 minutes until cooked through.


While the fish is steaming, in a small bowl, stir together the wine, soy sauce and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.


Remove the fish, drain off any liquid and place on a large platter.


Scatter the scallions and cilantro over the fish.


Heat up the vegetable oil until very hot.


Pour the sauce over the fish and scallions and then pour the oil over the fish. It will sizzle nice and loud. Serve immediately.