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Kitchen & Cooking

A bamboo steamer is the secret to quick, easy dinner

This steamed fish with soy and ginger is simple and delicious.

A white plate with steamed white fish topped with soy sauce, green onions, whole ginger, and limes. Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby / Tatiana Rosana

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If there’s one kitchen gadget that’s incredibly useful in a variety of ways, yet doesn’t get used nearly enough, it’s the humble bamboo steamer. It conjures images of towering baskets filled with tasty dim sum, stacked high one on top of the other, and precarious perches over pots and woks. The bamboo steamer is best known for its ability to cook up delicious dumplings) and fluffy bao buns, but I promise you, it can do so much more.

From vegetables to custards to cakes, the bamboo steamer basket is only limited by your imagination. This gentle heat application of steaming cooks the fish perfectly without drying it out. Pair it with a super savory soy and mirin sauce and you’ve got a quick, easy, and healthy weeknight dinner in minutes.

What You Need

Various dishes filled with ingredients making dinner: raw white fish, soy sauce, green onion, ginger, and chilies.
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby / Tatiana Rosana

The steaming process adds a rich ginger flavor to the tender fish, mixed with ultra-savory soy sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 5 scallions
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
  • Two 7-ounce filets of halibut, grouper, snapper, or salmon (or one 14-ounce portion)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Optional: sliced chilis for garnish

Tools:

Time Needed

30 minutes

Difficulty

Easy

How to make Steamed Fish with Soy and Ginger

Steamed fish on a plate topped with soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and chilies.
Credit: Reviewed / Tatiana Rosana

Serve your steamed fish with a side of rice and you've got a delicious dinner.

Step 1: Set up steamer

Place a bamboo steamer over a pot with two inches of water and bring to a simmer and begin steaming.

Step 2: Prepare scallions

Prepare scallions by cutting into 3-inch pieces and then slicing thinly lengthwise. Place scallions in ice water and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the meal (this will ensure they curl nicely).

Step 3: Prepare sauce

In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, lime juice, and mirin.

Step 4: Arrange fish in bamboo steamer

Place fish on a heat-safe plate (make sure plate is small enough to fit in your steamer basket but large enough to hold the fish and sauce). Arrange ginger on top of the fish, then pour soy mixture over the ginger and fish. Lightly sprinkle salt over fish to season.

An illustration of a steamer basket topped with fish on a plate sits uncovered on a pot of steaming water on the stove.
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby / Tatiana Rosana

Ensure your plate is stable before placing the lid on your steamer.

Step 5: Steam fish

Place the plate inside steamer basket and cover, steaming for 10 to 12 minutes depending on thickness of fish (salmon will take 12 to 14 minutes). The fish is ready when it easily flakes apart—you can test using a fork to gently separate the fish.

Step 6: Heat oil

While fish is steaming, mix the vegetable oil and sesame oil together in a small pot and heat until just below smoking. You’ll know it’s ready when you insert a wooden spoon in the pot and it causes bubbles to form.

Step 7: Assemble dish

Once fish is cooked through, carefully remove the entire plate from the steamer basket. Drain the scallions from the ice water and lay on top of the fish and ginger. Very carefully pour the hot sesame oil mixture over the scallions, which will gently cook them and bring out their aromatics as well as season the dish even more.

Step 7: Serve

Garnish with chilis, serve with a warm bowl of rice, and enjoy. Pro-tip: Spoon the delicious sauce over your rice for added flavor.

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