Steamed Halibut with Chili Bean Sauce | Hong Kong Food Blog with Recipes, Cooking Tips mostly of Chinese and Asian styles | Taste Hong Kong

Steamed Halibut with Chili Bean Sauce

Steamed Halibut with Chili Bean Sauce

I like steamed fishes which are succulent and smooth, enjoying them especially when served piping hot. Steaming is a popular Chinese Cantonese cooking technique, when adopted for cooking fish helps retain most of their original tastes and textures. But accordingly to Cantonese chefs, not all kinds of fishes qualify for such way of cooking.

Only freshly killed fishes should be used for steaming if we are to take chefs’ advice seriously. And minimal ingredients, mostly ginger and green onion slivers, should be applied on them.

I know I have got used to eating fishes the Cantonese way, also the predominant cooking style here in Hong Kong. Yet like the receptive culture here, I also realize that I (and also most people around me) have also developed an appetite for foods of different regions in China, Asia and beyond. Perhaps these might explain why I have bought a fillet of halibut delivered from Greenland, and cooked it by Cantonese steaming, which however is crossed over with a Sichuan style sauce renowned for its hot flavors.

The frozen halibut, after cooked, remains moist while also tasting hot and sour with the sauce but having no clues of fishy smells. I will excuse myself for regarding this as a nice alternative to the classic steamed fishes.

Steamed Halibut with Chili Bean Sauce

  • Ingredients
  • 400g halibut fillet
  • 7-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig spring onion, finely sliced
  • Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Sichuan chili bean paste, aka douban jiang 豆瓣酱
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Chekiang vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp rice barn oil
  • 1/4 tsp white wine, I use Tianjin Meiguilu Chiew 玫瑰露酒
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch + 1 tsp water for thickening
  • Marinades for fish
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp white wine


Thaw fish fillet; clean it under running water. Put it in a plate and rest it in basin. Pour about 1 cup of hot water over one side of the fillet then turn to the other side and do the same with another cup of hot water. This helps remove the frozen smell of the frozen fillet as I did for this.

Pat dry. Slice it if necessary, I cut mine into an uniform thickness of about 1 1/2 cm.

Set up your steamer or a rack in wok with 2 to 3 cups of water like here for steaming. Cover lid, bring water over high heat to a boil

Lay fish fillet (or fillets) on a steam-proof plate in one layer. Cover it evenly with chopped garlic.

As water boils (steam emits), open lid and lay the plate with fish securely on the rack. Time 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over low heat, combine chili bean sauce, vinegar, sugar, oil and water. Swirl to mix well and bring them to a boil. Sample taste, add and adjust soy sauce as required (cause the saltiness of chili bean sauce varies). Thicken with corn starch paste. Now you have your sauce ready as soon as the fish is cooked

If a chopstick pass through the fish fillet easily, it is done. Drain way any water in plate – you need to insulate your hands while holding the hot plate – by gently tilting it but not slipping away the fish and garlic.

Pour sauce over the fish and garnish with spring onion. Serve hot with rice.


Steamed Halibut with Chili Bean Sauce

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  1. Juliana

    Wow, this halibut looks delicious, I love the bean paste flavor…lots of garlic…great and easy dish. Beautiful pictures as well. Have a wonderful week 🙂

  2. mycookinghut

    Yummy! I love steamed fish and the way you made this with chili bean sauce is just lovely!!

  3. Tastes of Home (Jen)

    Love the crossover 😀 I love love steamed fish too, I could have just this with rice (lots of rice)

  4. tigerfish

    I agree that fresh whole fishes are best for steaming! But truth be told – as I don’t have access to a lot of whole “live” fishes here, I usually steam frozen fillets too. Steaming will works for me if the quality of the frozen fillets are good.

  5. Joyti

    And bonus, steaming not only helps foods retain flavor, but its healthy.
    The steamed fish sounds very good. I like that you picked a fish that doesn’t have a fishy smell..

  6. noobcook

    I love cross cultural influences in cooking, and that sauce looks really good!

  7. Mary Moh

    Thanks very much for dropping by, Maureen. It’s been a while I have not come by. Each day just passes by too fast! Always love to see your food and pictures….makes me drool 🙂 I love fish but not my children. I won’t cook other meat if there’s fish otherwise they won’t eat the fish…..naughty huh…hmmm

  8. TasteHongKong

    @Mary Moh,
    No worries, and take your time, Mary. I always love to drop by though sometimes lazy to write.

  9. lena

    hi maureen, never eaten a halibut before but good to know abt the chilli bean sauce. I dont use that sauce very often..even if i do, i use them for stirfrying. Thanks for the idea! also to let you know that i have made your gingermilk curd after several attempts. i shall post it up next week, thanks!

  10. Lori

    This sauce sounds so good! I could see it working with some other things as well, but first I’d love to try this fish.

  11. TasteHongKong

    Hi! Yes, I too use the chili bean sauce for stir fries, like Mapo Tofu and even add it in a soup. I just happened to find it goes well with halibut, maybe you could consider replacing it with grass carp 鯇鱼.
    I’ll be waiting beside my computer for your ginger-milk curd : ).

    Right, the sauce tasting hot and sour is appetizing indeed. Hope you shall enjoy it soon.

  12. penny aka jeroxie

    That is how mister steam fish as well! So good when it is piping hot hot hot

  13. Mei Teng

    I have not tasted halibut before.