How to Steam Fish in a Rice Cooker, Chinese Style | Hong Kong Food Blog with Recipes, Cooking Tips mostly of Chinese and Asian styles | Taste Hong Kong

How to Steam Fish in a Rice Cooker, Chinese Style

How to steam fish with fermented soybean paste in a rice cooker

Cooking with rice cooker is a good thing for many reasons, not the least of which is its capability of cooking rice and steaming another dish simultaneously. Plus, I could walk away from my kitchen leaving the appliance unattended and go WhatsApping, Googling, or even snapping until the timer beeps. It is also one of the most used, easy and simple ways I cook for myself when dinning alone at home.

It however is not only good for cooking small-serving meals. We may steam a larger piece of fish as long as our rice cookers can hold it. And also cook with much variations we like; using chili bean paste or miso paste, or soybean paste are the ones I frequent. If you could not locate Chinese soybean paste, you may also try one from Korea.

How to steam fish in a rice cooker

Before cooking, just make sure the fish and the plate will fit into the rice cooker, then marinade the fish as you would steam it in a steamer or a wok. It is this simple!

You don’t even need to adjust the heat and fear of the fish being over-looked just by observing these little rules:

Cooking rice first: Cook the rice as usual, then put the fish into the cooker with a basket or on a rack at time when the timer beeps (you shall see how).

Steaming time: My fish fillet here is slightly thinner than an inch (thickest part) and is rather a small cut, therefore needs only 6 minutes to cook. You may follow the 10-minute-per-inch rule if you are having a thicker slice of fish fillet. Usually, I would choose to under-cook the fish slightly and keep the lid of cooker covered for another minute or two after cooking ends, thus preventing the fish from being over-cooked and turning dry and tough.

How to steam fish in a rice cooker

  • Ingredients
  • a fillet of frozen halibut, ~150g
  • ~1/2 – 1 tbsp shredded ginger
  • ~1/2 – 1 tbsp thinly sliced green onions
  • ~1/2 tbsp fermented soybean paste
  • 1 tsp soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1 tsp oil, I used olive oil
  • Marinades for fish
  • pinch of ground white pepper
  • pinch of sea salt, no more than 1/8 tsp

How to steam fish in a rice cooker


Preparing the fish
Thaw fish fillet thoroughly, if using frozen one. Briefly rinse under running tap water to clean. I did one more step to get rid of fishy smell: pour hot water all over the fish fillet (as preparing this). You may skip this if the fish is fresh enough. Pat dry.

Marinade fish with a little of ground white pepper and salt.

Get a steam-proof plate, also making sure it would fit into the rice cooker, scatter about one fourth of the ginger shreds in center of the plate, then put fish fillet on top of them.

Top the fish with soybean paste, spreading it out with back of spoon. Scatter remaining ginger shreds on top of it. Set aside.

Rinse rice until water turned from milky to clear. Meanwhile, also have a clean stainless steel steaming rack ready for fitting into rice cooker.

Cooking with rice cooker
Cook rice in rice cooker under normal mode; do not use quick mode. Set a timer to beep you. I set mine at 24 minutes (cooking rice takes 30 minutes and steaming this fish fillet shall take 6 minutes).

As the timer beeps, open the rice cooker, when you shall see the rice is still moist and covered with bubbles. Land the rack into the rice and place on top of it the plate of fish. Get a tong to help you do this to avoid burning by steams. But if your rice cooker comes with a steamer or steaming basket, simply omit using the rack.

Cover lid, continue until cooking function ends (in these few minutes, I suggest that you cook some veggie to complement the meal). You may also choose to keep the lid on for a minute or two to make sure the fish is perfectly cooked but not rough.

To test doness, open lid and plunge a chopstick all the way through the thickest part of the fish fillet. If done, the chopstick shall pass through easily, and the meat on the outside and at the center should both be opaque. Scatter sliced spring onions over the fish.

Check taste, drizzle soy sauce and oil around fish (To finish this the traditional way: heat some more oil in a saucepan until lightly smoke and pour it over the spring onions and steamed fish to sizzle them a bit. For simplicity, I skipped this and drizzle in olive oil straight from my bottle).

Serve hot with rice.

How to steam fish in a rice cooker


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  1. Rachel

    This looks like a good method. But I thought you had to be careful with using metal inside the rice cooker in case it erodes the non-stick lining from inside the bottom of it?

  2. TasteHongKong

    Yes, thanks!
    We should be more gentle with that. Or, try my another alternative, turning a sieve into a steaming basket, if your rice cooker doesn’t come with one.

  3. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    I like this method…absolutely uncomplicated and fish stays succulent and tender.

  4. Irina @ wandercrush

    Ah the resourcefulness of Chinese folks 😉 My mom does this all the time, too. So clever and economical… not to mention steaming is still my favourite way to enjoy fresh fish in all its unspoilt glory.

  5. Lilly

    Oh my, so reminds me of childhood helping mom in the kitchen. We used to steam the entire fish, head and tail, then pour hot oil with ginger and scallions, so good and fragrant.

  6. Gigi Chang

    I like to steam fish in rice cooker too. It is easy and convenient . Usually I will steam the fish when the rice starts to boil in the cooker.
    For me, the best seasoning would be garlic, ginger & black bean. Chop & mix together and place it on the fish, while I will also put spring onion under it for better flavour.

  7. Gigi Chang

    I like to steam fish in rice cooker too. It is easy and convenient . Usually I will steam the fish when the rice starts to boil in the cooker.
    For me, the best seasoning would be garlic, ginger & black bean. Chop & mix together and place it on the fish, while I will also put spring onion under it for better flavour.

  8. ATasteOfMadness

    This is awesome! I thought that you could only cook rice in a rice cooker.

  9. mycookinghut

    This reminds me of how my mom prepared dinner so quick and easy.. I just love rice cooker!!

  10. Juliana

    Such an interesting way to steam fish…great that you can have both in one pan…rice and fish. Such a healthy way to cook fish.
    Have a great weekend Maureen 😀

  11. tigerfish

    I can’t agree more on the capability of the rice cooker esp. the part on multi-tasking while cooking is on-going. I often cook one-pot congee (those with veggies, mushrooms, other proteins eg. chicken, fish) in the rice-cooker. With rice-cooker, I don’t have to stand behind the stove and eye-ball the cooking, not even stir occasionally. I usually does this one-pot congee when I cook just for myself

  12. Lori

    I’ve been so tempted to get a rice cooker. I hear such great things about them, and now you’ve given me another great reason to go for it. This looks delicious!

  13. noobcook

    what a super idea! I used to steam fish using rice cooker when I had the upper rack rice cooker but stopped doing so after switching to a rice cooker like yours. Now I can resume thanks to your tip 🙂

  14. Monica

    I love steamed fish like this – my mom made it often growing up and still does but I have yet to do it myself. I need to work on that!

  15. Tim

    I have steamed FROZEN salmon by just laying the still frozen filet on top of the rice before starting rice cooker. Came out perfectly cooked.