Olive Magazine
A blue and white oval plate topped with a steamed fish in a chilli sauce and topped with red chilli and sliced spring onions

Chinese steamed fish

Published: January 25, 2022 at 3:44 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
    • + pickling
  • A little effort
  • Serves 4

Fish signifies abundance and an increase in wealth and prosperity in the coming year, so it is a must-make dish during Chinese New Year feasting. This steamed soy dover sole is served with a pickled red chilli chutney for a kick of heat


Try Peter Ho's recipe for Chinese steamed fish, then check out our Chinese chicken dumplings, Chinese pork belly and more Chinese-style recipes

Chef Peter Ho says: "Fish signifies abundance and an increase in wealth and prosperity in the coming year, so it is a must-make dish during Chinese New Year feasting. Steamed fish is one of the most famous dishes, too. I cook it for my family every year for our Chinese New Year dinner. Start with making the pickled chilli, which must be done 21 days in advance. The fish is then marinated in the pickled chilli during the steaming process. Pickled chilli is something I always batch cook and have as a staple in my fridge but, if you don’t have time to make it, you’ll find them in Chinese supermarkets, along with the mi popo. You will also need a large bamboo steamer for the fish."



  • 300g red chillies
  • 30g sea salt flakes
  • 50g mi popo (fermented glutinous rice)
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
  • 15g sugar
  • 15g bouillon
  • 20g garlic, chopped
  • 20g ginger, chopped


  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Maggi Liquid Seasoning
  • 32g rock sugar or soft light brown sugar
  • 60ml light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chicken powder, or chicken stock cube ½, crumbled
  • a few leaves coriander


  • trimmed whole Dover sole
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • a bunch spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • a small bunch coriander, roughly chopped


  • STEP 1
    For the pickled chillies, slice the chillies in half, remove the seeds and discard. Tip the chillies into a bowl with the salt and mix really well, then transfer to an airtight container and leave at room temperature where it will begin to release a liquid. Mix the ingredients in the container every day for at least 21 days until the pickles are fully submerged. You will be left with around 150g of pickled chillies. When you would like to prepare the chutney, finely chop the pickled chillies and add the remaining ingredients. Once mixed, keep it refrigerated and use within 30 days. 
  • STEP 2
    For the sauce, mix all of the ingredients with 480ml of water in small pan, bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat to low and bubble very gently for 30 minutes. 
  • STEP 3
    Dust the fish in the cornflour, making sure it is evenly coated. Put it on a plate and sprinkle over plenty of the chutney. Half fill a pan with just-boiled water and fit a large bamboo steamer on top that will fit the plate. Put the plate in the steamer, cover with the lid and steam for 8 minutes, then pour away the liquid. 
  • STEP 4
    Put the steamed fish and chutney on a serving platter, pour over the sauce and top with the spring onions. Heat the vegetable oil until very hot in a small pan, then carefully spoon it over the fish and sauce. Scatter over the coriander and serve with steamed rice. 

Try our best

A grey plate topped with pan-fried fish, golden potatoes, green beans and slices of yellow lemons

Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating


Sponsored content