May 26, 2014

Steamed Garoupa Fish 蒸石斑

chinese, fish, Garoupa, hong kong, recipe, steamed, 石斑, 蒸, grouper, cantonese
By Published: 2014-05-26
This Steamed Garoupa Fish, or 蒸石斑, originates from a story of lateness.  I have always been late in things and I'm not bragging about it.  A lot of times it has caused me no end of annoyance and I have always been of the opinion that being late a bit and a good worker balances out (even upends!) being on time and fairly useless in your work.  

But one thing that being late in has worked for me is being late in getting my a** to the wet market to buy fresh food.  So, oops, it's late, gotta go, grab my little girl, get her dressed and brushed, and off we go down the busy Hong Kong streets to the local wet market to see what the catch of the day is.  The thing about wet markets is that they close pretty early, around 7 pm-ish, or even earlier if they sell out their wares for the day (more likely of the fresh seafood vendors).  But let me tell you, being late to the wet market can have its advantages!

chinese, fish, Garoupa, hong kong, recipe, steamed, 石斑, 蒸, grouper, cantonese

We arrived at the wet market to discover most of the fresh seafood vendors closed already.  I guess they had had a good day of selling.  We approached one of our usual vendors just as they were very obviously closing up shop for the night.  Almost everything was packed up already but on the table near us was left some baskets of freshly dead fish.  Garoupa!  I thought to myself.  Expensive as heck.  But the eyes of the garoupa fish gleamed clearly with their freshness.  

Just then the owner of the shop, a talkative luxuriantly mustachioed man, passed by carrying in some styrofoam boxes.  A quick recognizing glance at us (熟客, or regular customers still carries a lot of weight at places like the wet market) and he grunted out a price which was ridiculously super low for super duper fresh garoupa.  I jumped to it and pointed to the biggest fish (a good 13 inches!) which he expertly gutted and cleaned in a flash.

Steamed, Garoupa, Fish,  蒸, 石斑, hong kong, chinese, recipe

We usually don't buy garoupa which is prized by the Cantonese for steaming because of its delicate tender yet firm white flesh because it is quite pricey.  But that night we had, by quirk of my lateness, a veritable seafood feast at home with this amazingly big, tasty and tender freshly Steamed Garoupa Fish!

chinese, fish, Garoupa, hong kong, recipe, steamed, 石斑, 蒸, grouper, cantonese
Look at that beautiful white tender fish meat!

The take away here is that the later you go to your local wet market the better the deals are.  And if you can somehow by nook and crook get there just before the vendors close up for the night you will be able to get some killer deals.  I like going to the wet market for the super deals when we can get them and also just as much because it feels like such a human, living place.  

Everyone at our local wet market knows us and knows exactly how old my little girl is.  My little girl has received everything from Chinese New Year's candies to tummy ache medicine from the gruff but kind shop owners there.  And, if you bother to ask nicely, you can get all kinds of great cooking preparation tips from the friendly folk there.  I know we have.  

Steamed, Garoupa, Fish,  蒸, 石斑, hong kong, chinese, recipe grouper
Steamed Garoupa Fish Recipe   蒸石斑
(Prep time: 2 mins  Cook time: 10 mins) 

  • 1 fresh garoupa (gutted and scaled by your fishmonger)
  • 2 stalks spring onion, white part, 5" long
  • 3 stalks spring onion, green part, shredded
  • 7 slices ginger, quarter sized
  • 3 tbsp ginger, slivered
  • 2 1/2 tbsp premium soy sauce , no msg please
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp peanut oil


Rinse your fish and remove any leftover bits in the gut cavity.  Place the 2 stalks of white part of spring onion on your steaming dish and place fish over.  (This lifts the fish slightly away from the surface of the dish and allows steam through for more even cooking.)  Take your 7 quarter sized slices of ginger and tuck 2 or 3 into the gut cavity and place the rest all over the top of your fish.  (Ginger dissipates any fishiness.)

When water is boiling, carefully put your fish (on plate) in the bamboo steamer or in the wok on top of stainless steel stand*.  Cover tightly and steam over high heat for 10 mins (for small fish) to 13 mins (for extra large fish).  To check if the fish is cooked look for eyes popping out and the side fins to be raised.  Remove fish at once from the steam.

Carefully (your fish is gonna slide!) pour out the accumulated fish juices into a separate bowl.  Taste the fish juice.  If it tastes good keep for next step.  If fishy or bitter discard.

In small pan, add 1 tbsp reserved fish juice (if any), chicken stock, soy sauce and sugar and stir vigorously over low heat until sugar melted and sauce is slightly reduced.

Remove ginger slices from fish.  Sprinkle slivered ginger first, then the shredded spring onion over the fish evenly.  In small pan, heat up oil til really smoking hot.  Carefully pour hot oil all over fish. The oil should make sizzling sound as it hits the fish.   The oil will slightly cook the spring onions and ginger, releasing their fragrant aromas to complement the steamed fish.

Pour prepared soy sauce around the fish and serve hot.  Hope you enjoy Steamed Garoupa Fish as much as we do!

Note: This recipe is pretty much the same as our Classic Chinese Steamed Fish Recipe 清蒸鱼.   The only difference for this preparation will be the large size of this particular garoupa fish (approx 13-14 inches long).    Steam for 13 minutes for this larger fish.

*If your bamboo steamer doesn't fit your fish, use a stainless steel stand (available at all chinese kitchenware stores) inside your wok with 2-3 inches of water, laying out the fish on a dish that goes on top of the stand.

Tip:  Garoupa fish is the same thing as Grouper fish.  There are many types of garoupa fish, my favorite at the moment is the star garoupa, very yummilicious!



  1. I still don't get how to do a large fish in a steamer. If you use the stainless stand, how do you cover the whole thing so it steams?

    1. You need a steamer pot that can fit the fish. Or if the fish too big for steamer, use a wok to steam. A wok will fit really big fish. Fill wok with a couple inches of water, place a stainless steel stand that clears water by an inch at least into wok center and place plate with the fish on stand, cover all with the big wok cover and steam away. Hope that helps! ~ellen

  2. The best steamed grouper I've ever had in my life was in a Seafood restaurant in Hong Kong. We were able to choose our own huge grouper from a tank. I've been trying to duplicate that experience since. Thanks so much for posting this recipe! Delicious!

    1. You're so lucky! The on site choosing of live seafood that is then prepared for you is, I think, one of Hong Kong's top food experiences! ~ellen