Sunday, May 12, 2013

Steamed Fish with Fermented Bean Paste (豆瓣酱蒸鱼)

Good quality taucheo 豆瓣酱 (aka Fermented Bean Paste) is very fragrant and umami. It could bring out the sweetness of the fish. Fresh tasting fish like Red Snapper or Threadfin works well with taucheo as they taste milder, and not as fishy as fishes like big head carp.

I love using Malaysian made taucheo. They are more fragrant, flavorful and not as salty as those imported from other place. Somehow, I'm quite particular. Am I too used to the taste? Or I had a cursed tongue? No. Probably I just love the taste. Haha..

I'm having problem here. I actually don't know what is the Chinese name of Red Snapper. Until I asked around, then I came to realized that the scientific name of Red Snapper is 红鲷, and fellow Hokkiens called Red Snapper as 红鸡. Now I learnt new words :)

I'm lucky. I've got myself two slice of nice and fresh Red Snapper fillet at the Supermart. So, I'm gonna steam it! FYI, incase you are buying at the wet market, market price for Red Snapper is about S$20 to S$22/kg. So, don't get cheated by fish monger! :)

  • 2 slices of Red Snapper Fish Fillet (mine is 380gm in total)
  • 1 tsp Salt, to rub on the fish
  • 1 tbsp Corn Flour / Tapioca Flour, to rub on the fish (optional)
  • 75g Fermented Bean Paste, a.k.a 豆瓣酱 / 豆酱 "Tao-Cheo"
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • Ginger, julienned
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Hot Shallot Oil 
  • Fried Shallot
  • Spring Onions
  • Coriander Leaves


  1. Clean fish, pat dry. Rub salt on the fish, and then pat some corn flour on it.
  2. Place some ginger on a steaming dish, place fish on top. 
  3. Apply fermented bean paste on top of the fish. Just like spreading peanut butter on your bread, generously. Sprinkle sugar on top.
  4. Bring water in the steamer to a boil and steam fish over high heat for 7 minutes. 
  5. While the fish is steaming half way, heat shallot oil and soy sauce in a pot and bring to a boil.
  6. Remove fish from the steamer, pour away excess steaming liquid.
  7. Drizzle hot shallot oil and soy sauce mixture over. Garnish and serve!

You must be wondering why I rub some corn flour on the fish before I steam it. Very simple. I'm steaming fish fillet here. The logic is to "lock" the juices from the fish meat. If you are steaming whole fish, you may skip this part.

These two slices of fillet is from big fish, and it has big bones. Difficult to cook, especially at the bone side. So, I steam it for 7 minutes. But please please please always bear in mind. When I mentioned the steaming time, I do expect the fish is in room temperature. If your fish is cold and right out of the fridge, please increase the steaming time.

Steamed fish must be eaten right after it's out of the wok. It won't taste nice if the steamed fish dish turned cold. Hence, whenever I blog about steamed fish, I fought my way through the rush hour try to make all the garnishing and photo taking as fast as I could. Because at another side, my family is waiting for me and the steamed fish to start the dinner.

This explained that my steamed fish has no strict rule on how this dish supposed to looks like, nor it looks neat. This is a home-cooked dish. The messier it is, the more home-cooked it looks like! Agree?

I hope you like it!

Do visit my other steamed fish recipes too :)

Prosperity Steamed Cod (富贵鳕鱼)

Canto Style Steamed Red Grouper (清蒸红石斑)

Hong Kong Style Steamed Cod Fish (港蒸鳕鱼)


  1. I love love love such type of cooking. For me, I used my mom's signature taucheo.

    1. Yupe! This is what we called home-cooked food. The usual ones. Fancy food is only once in a blue moon :)

  2. Hi Annie, my family loves steamed fish esp those from my hubby's fishing trips. They are super delicious and I wouldn't want to waste much time to taking photos for blog posting cos' we wanted to eat it right away. I used to steam fish with sweetened fine taucheo and I didn't have to add any other seasoning. Yours looks good enough.

    1. Hi Kimmy, thanks for visiting my blog. Yes! Indeed. I wanna eat my steamed fish rightaway too. But sometimes, I can't help it lah. I still have to take photo first before I eat. Haha

  3. Annie,
    I always love to read your posts about cooking fish.
    You cook them so well.
    I have tried your HK style steam cod fish and I family love it!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Now I am going to steam fish again, I think of you
    I like your tau cheo steamed fish. It is not messy at all but look like the restaurant standard..:)

    1. Hi Mui Mui,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm glad to know that your family love it! Keep it up and happy cooking! :)

  4. This is soooooo delish eten with rice porridge..slurp slurp...

  5. Hi Annie,
    love love love your blog. great recipes. i would love to try this recipe out - do you home made the tau cheo or you bought the ready made paste and what brand is that ? Looking forward to more posts :)

    1. Hi Josephine, I used shop-bought tao cheo. The brand is Orchid Brand from Malaysia :)

  6. I've never tried other country's taucheo so I'm not sure how different it tastes but mmmm I love taucheo and steamed fish! looks delicious!

  7. Thanks for your method of steaming fish. It is indeed the best ever practised. The fish meat tastes smooth and yummy. Most important ,it not fishy.