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Steamed Fish in Ginger

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When I was writing and creating my second cookbook, this recipe for Steamed Fish in Ginger was the first thing that came to mind for the seafoods chapter. It was my dad’s favorite fish dish, one with Chinese influences yet often served at Filipino homes. My dad enjoyed eating fish and seafood nearly every day and my mom cooked a different recipe daily during my childhood years in the Philippines. Dad constantly told us of the fish’s wholesome benefits to our well-being.

In the lengthy process of writing and cooking the recipes for My Mother’s Philippine Recipes Cookbook, somewhere along the way, this recipe got omitted because I couldn’t fit it in anymore. I had more recipes than I could accommodate. So, I am sharing this with you here on the blog.

Whenever I cook this dish, I like to buy a whole red snapper and preferably it should be the fresh catch-of-the-day, the way my dad wanted it. But if you can’t have access to a whole fish like this one, feel free to use fillets of fish. A white fish is good for this recipe – like red snapper, pompano or tilapia.

If you want to transform this dish from a weeknight family meal to a festive fish entrée, then this is perfect, too. The simplicity of the basic ingredients and effortless process of cooking will be the contrast you’re looking for as you serve rich, decadent dishes during the holidays. You can have a large festive platter for the fish at the center of the long table, right next to the roast or the ham. It will be a welcome, refreshing alternative with its sweet-savory flavors and hints of rice wine and ginger. Plus I’ve updated the recipe below to give you alternatives on how to cook this: In the Instant Pot or any multi-cooker brand or the classic stove-top way in the steamer.

If my dad were still around, I’m sure this would be the first entrée he would relish and enjoy at meal times.

Steamed Fish with Ginger

Steamed Fish in Ginger is a Filipino dish with Chinese flavors and one of the easiest ways to cook a large red snapper like this one. If you prefer, use fish fillets for this recipe using the same seasonings and procedure but instead put the stuffing on top. There is something about the combination of ginger, lemon and rice wine that gives fish and seafood that fragrant Asian aroma and right amount of saltiness to this simple, homespun entrée. This is an Asian in America recipe. Serves 2 as a side or up to 4 if served with rice.
*This recipe has been updated. I share two ways to cook this in the procedure: In the Instant Pot and the classic stove-top way via the steamer.
Note: Cooking time indicated is for the Instant Pot. It takes 30 minutes to steam on the stove-top.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Asian, Chinese, Filipino
Keyword: Filipino Steamed Fish Ginger
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 21kcal
Author: Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Steamer for stove-top use
  • Instant Pot or any brand of multi-cooker - 6 quarts or 8 quarts


  • 1 whole (2 to 2.5 lbs.) red snapper (lapu-lapu) cleaned, gutted, scales removed, tail trimmed
  • 1 Tablespoon calamansi or lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon xiao xing rice wine
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
  • 1 whole white or yellow onion chopped
  • 2 stalks scallions chopped, divided, use 1 teaspoon as garnish, rest for stuffing
  • 1 knob (1-inch piece) fresh ginger peeled, sliced thin in 1-inch sized slices (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • boiled rice for serving
  • 2 Tablespoons patis (fish sauce) served as side dipping sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper corns
  • 1 whole fresh lemon sliced, for garnish


  • Wash fish thoroughly with water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • If using a whole fish, score the middle part with 2 to 3 slits.
  • Marinate the fish for 30 minutes with lemon juice, rice wine, soy sauce, salt and black pepper all over and inside. Do not marinate longer than 30 minutes or you will end up with  kinilaw or ceviche.
  • In a small bowl, combine the onions, scallions, ginger and black pepper corns. Stuff the inside cavity of the fish. If there are leftover chopped onions, scatter them on top of the fish.
    Sprinkle the sesame oil on top and inside the fish.
  • To cook stove-top in the steamer:
    Fill the bottom pot of the steamer with water. Cover and over high heat bring water to a boil.
    Place the fish on a platter which has a narrow rim, and which will fit inside the steamer.
  • Place the platter of fish inside the second level of the steamer. Cover and steam for 30 minutes for this size of fish ( 2 to 2.5 lbs.).
  • When fish is done, remove from steamer. Garnish with additional sliced scallions and fresh chopped parsley plus lemon slices. Serve warm with rice and a side of patis (fish sauce).
  • Cook's comments: When buying fish at the market, the fish monger offers to clean, remove the scales, intestines and tails of the fish. They also offer to fillet it. All these services are for free. Take advantage and have them do it for you before you head home from the market.

To cook in the Instant Pot

  • Wash and marinate the fish as directed in the instructions above.
    Place the fish and ingredients (see previous instructions above) in a metal or silicone round pan (about 7-inches diameter) which will fit into a 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.
    Place the fish in the pan above the metal trivet that comes with the Instant Pot
    Fill the inside pot with 3 cups of water or enough to reach the bottom of the pan.
  • Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing.
    Press Manual and cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes.
    When buzzer sounds to announce cooking is done, do a Quick Release. When the float pin drops, it is safe to unlock the lid. Open the lid carefully.
    Using silicone mitts, remove the pan with the fish. Plate on a serving platter and garnish. Serve warm with rice.

Notes on the Instant Pot

  • It takes about 17 to 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to pre-heat before the High Pressure cooking time begins. For other brands of multicookers, check the product manual.
    Safety precautions: Use accessories recommended for the Instant Pot or multi-cookers like silicone or metal. Do not use glassware. Read the product manual for complete safety information.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 21kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1668mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 120IU | Vitamin C: 2.2mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition Notes: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-QuirinoBuy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

Disclosure: Instant Pot is the brand name of a multi-cooker that cooks in high and low pressure. I was not paid by the Instant Pot company to mention the product or brand nor endorse it. This is not an ad. My views and opinions are my own.

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