• Fish steamed with pandan and lemongrass (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

Steaming is a brilliant way to deal with a large, whole fish, although you do need a very large saucepan and bamboo steam basket to accommodate it. This recipe will work equally as well with plate-sized fish (about 400 g each) and you don’t have to stick with snapper, either. Use bream, barramundi, perch, coral trout or any other white-fleshed fish you prefer. Just cook them for 12 or so minutes less.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (39 votes)


  • 2 kg whole snapper
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, bruised and halved lengthways
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
  • 8 pandan leaves, trimmed and bruised
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) light soy sauce
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) clear rice wine
  • 2½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 6 small green chillies, halved lengthways
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced on the diagonal
  • large handful coriander sprigs
  • steamed rice, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Half fill a very large saucepan or wok with water and bring to the boil. Using a sharp knife, score the fish 3 times on the diagonal on each side, cutting nearly through to the bone. Place the lemongrass, lime leaves and 4 of the pandan leaves inside the fish cavity. 

Place the remaining pandan leaves on a deep plate large enough to hold the fish then place the fish on the leaves.  Drizzle over the soy sauce, rice wine, fish sauce and lime juice then scatter over the sugar and chillies. Place the plate in a steam basket over the boiling water then cover tightly.

Cook for about 25 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Scatter over the green onion and coriander and serve immediately with steamed rice, with cooking juices spooned over.  


Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel. 


This recipe is part of our 10 ways with pandan column. View previous 10 ways with… columns and recipes