Steamed Whole Tilapia with Ginger and Shallots

posted: 06/30/10

Take Home Chef, Episode 89: Fanny's Menu


  • Two 1 2/3-pound/750-g whole tilapia fish, scaled, cleaned and gutted
  • 1/3 cup/25 g julienned, peeled fresh ginger
  • 14 ounces/400 g Chinese long beans
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon/4 g granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup/70 ml tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon/3 ml toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup/30 g julienned shallots (preferably green shallots)
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml peanut oil
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves only
  • Small pinch of freshly ground white pepper


  1. Place the fish on a chopping board. With a sharp knife, cut three diagonal slits into the side of each fish, then cut three diagonal slits in the opposite direction to make a diamond pattern. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side.
  2. Place one fish in each of two baskets of a large bamboo steamer. If necessary, trim the tails of the fish so that the fish fit in the baskets. Gently rub half of the ginger over the fish and into the slits.
  3. Place the beans in the steamer baskets alongside the fish, wrapping the beans to surround the fish. Bring 2 inches/5 cm of water to a boil in a large wok over a medium-to-high heat.
  4. Place one steamer basket in the wok over the boiling water. Pour 2 tablespoons/30 ml of sherry over the fish. Stack the second basket atop the first basket, and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons/30 ml of sherry over the fish.
  5. Cover the steamer baskets with the lid and steam the fish for about 12 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. You can tell that the fish is cooked when the meat is white through to the bone, which will be exposed by the cuts. If fish is still translucent, replace the lid firmly and steam for another minute or so.
  6. Remove the steamer baskets from the wok. Transfer the beans to the chopping board and slice diagonally into 2-inch/5-cm pieces, then sprinkle them around a serving platter. Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the fish to the platter.
  7. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the fish. Combine the tamari and sesame oil in a small bowl, then drizzle it over the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining ginger and half of the shallots.
  8. In a small saucepan, heat the peanut oil over high heat until it begins to smoke, about 3 minutes. Slowly and carefully drizzle the hot oil over the fish. Garnish with remaining shallots, the cilantro and pepper, and serve immediately.
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