“Nian Nian Yu Yue”

Fish signifies 'nian nian yu yue' in mandarin. It brings about positive sentiment of yearly abundance and prosperity. The steam fish is a must-have and the central dish for Chinese New Year. 

The different Chinese dialect groups steam their fish in different ways. 

The Teochews will steamed their fish with preserved mustard, sour plum, tomatoes and scallions; the Cantonese prefer their fish quite simply with soy sauce, a pinch of rock sugar, garnished with sliced ginger; the Hakka use pickled mustard greens that infuse the fish with a briny flavour. 

Below is the recipe for the Cantonese style of steamed fish.

Steamed White Pomfret

1 medium-sized white pomfret
1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp salt and dash of white pepper
3 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsps hot water
1 tsp sesame
1 tbsp palm cooking oil
dash of white pepper
coriander, scallion and spring onions for garnishing


1) Remove gills from fish, rinse well and pat dry with kitchen paper towels. Place it in a heatproof deep dish.

2) Marinate fish with the teaspoon of salt, few shakes of pepper and a dash of sesame oil.

3) Arrange the ginger slices and scallion on top and below fish.

4) Heat up 1 tbsp palm cooking oil in the wok, stir in the oyster and soy sauce. Pour the heated soy sauce over the fish. 

5) Bring water to boil over high heat in a steamer, and place the fish inside for 15 minutes. By now, you should see the eyes of fish are all popped out and the fins should be open. 

6) Lift the fish from the steamer. Garnish before serving immediately.

Serves 8 people

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