RECIPE: Steamed Whole Bream with Chilli & Corriander

Steaming is a quick and simple way to cook whole plate-sized fish. You’ll need two bamboo steamer baskets to hold four fish; they can be stacked on top of each other over the wok and should be rotated half way through the cooking to ensure the fish cook evenly. While some people may be daunted at
first by tackling a whole fish, many insist that fish cooked on the bone has the best flavour.


  • 4 plate-sized bream, scaled, gilled and gutted

  • 2/3 cup fish sauce

  • 1/3 cup lime juice

  • 2 teaspoons grated palm sugar

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 4 small green chillies, finely sliced

  • ½ bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped

  • 2 lemons, zested

  • Steamed jasmine rice, to serve


  1.  Rinse the belly cavity of the fish, rub away any black lining and pat dry with paper towel. Check for any remaining scales. Cut several deep slashes into the thickest part of both sides of the fish.

  2. Half fill a wok or large saucepan with water and bring to the boil.

  3. Place a plate in 2 steamer baskets.

  4. Combine fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, garlic, chilli and half the coriander.

  5. Place 2 fish in each basket and stack baskets over wok or saucepan, cover and steam for 10-12 minutes until the fish are opaque and flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork, rotating the baskets after 6 minutes.

  6. Remove the plates from the baskets. Place fish on serving plates, pour fish sauce mixture over them and sprinkle with remaining coriander and lemon zest. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice. 

Alternative species: barramundi, morwong, snapper, ocean perch.

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