Steamed barramundi Chinese style

In Chinese culture, whole fish is considered the showstopper and is often the centrepiece on special occasions. This dish gives spectacular results with surprisingly minimal effort. As with most proteins, cooking whole (on the bone) imparts maximum flavour, however, this recipe can be made with fillets (make sure you choose a firm-fleshed fish). If using fillets, set them on a bed of the stuffing. 








  • 4 small barramundi, cleaned (approx. 700g each)



  • 4 shallots, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 7cm piece ginger, sliced thinly
  • 4 stems coriander, rinsed and chopped (leaves and roots)
  • 30ml Shaoxing wine



  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
  • 20ml Shaoxing wine
  • 40ml soy sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper 


To serve

  • 2 shallots, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 5cm ginger, finely julienned
  • 1/3 cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1-2 red chillies (choose the chilli according to your desired heat), thinly sliced
  • 80ml peanut oil
  • Fresh coriander
  • Extra chilli
  • Steamed rice and cucumber salad


1. For the fish and stuffing

To steam the fish, you will need a large steamer basket (large enough to hold as many fish as you plan to steam at a time – multiple orders can also be cooked using a stacked steamer) set over a pot of simmering water. 

Stuff the fish with the shallots, ginger and coriander, put onto a lightly oiled tray or heat-proof plate (you can also create a foil boat to hold each fish), set inside the steamer basket and pour over the Shaoxing wine. Make sure there is room around the plate for steam to rise. Cover and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the fish flakes easily at its thickest point. 

2. For the sauce

While the fish is cooking put the sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, sugar and white pepper into a small saucepan. Gently heat.

3. To serve

Transfer the fish onto a serving plate, scatter over the shallots, ginger, coriander and chilli then spoon over the soy mixture. Heat the peanut oil until very hot (just before the smoke point when it is shimmering in the pan) and immediately pour over the fish – the hot oil serves to finish the sauce, searing the fish a little and cooking the shallots, ginger and coriander. It also adopts the flavours of the aromatics, combining with the liquid from the topping to create a delicious sauce. Scatter with fresh coriander, serve with steamed rice and a smashed sesame cucumber salad. 

As seen in Summer 23/24

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