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Thai Steamed Fish in Coconut Sauce • Panning The Globe

Thai Steamed Fish in Coconut Sauce

  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


Steamed fish fillets with fragrant Thai coconut sauce


Units Scale
  • 4 5-ounce skinless white fish fillets such as halibut, snapper or flounder
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 2 large shallots, 1 chopped (1/4 cup) and one thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped ginger root
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, tough outer layers removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 small thai red chili (substitute a red jalapeño) seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk from a can (shake can well to mix before opening)
  • 2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
  • 15 springs of cilantro, leaves separated from stems, divided (you'll use leaves for the garnish and some of the stems to make the sauce)
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Serve with hot steamed white rice (I recommend jasmine rice)


  1. To Make the Coconut Sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add chopped shallot, ginger, lemon grass and chili. Stir-fry for 3 minutes or until fragrant and lightly colored. Scrape into a small food processor or blender. (don't wash skillet - you'll use it for the topping) Add coconut milk, fish sauce and 8 stems of cilantro. Process for 30 seconds or so, until everything is finely blended into a thick sauce.
  2. To Steam the Fish: *Arrange the fish fillets in a single layer on a heatproof plate or glass pie pan. Spread the coconut sauce evenly over the fish fillets. Place plate in a steamer and turn the heat to high. Once the water is boiling, cover tightly and steam fish for 6-8 minutes or until it's just opaque. Test with a knife. If the knife goes in easily, with no resistance, the fish is done. Remove from heat and remove cover.
  3. To Fry the Shallots and Cilantro: While the fish is steaming, line a plate with a paper towel. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, stir-fry the shallots until browned, 3 minutes of so. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Add the cilantro leaves and fry them for just a few seconds. Transfer them to the plate.
  4. To Serve: Carefully (I used two spatulas) transfer fish fillets to four plates.(I like to plate them over a bed of rice) Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt and a generous sprinkling of pepper. Scatter fried shallots and cilantro on top. Spoon extra sauce over the rice.
  5. * See post for more details on how to set up a steamer
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Lunch or Light Dinner
  • Method: Steam
  • Cuisine: Thai