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Steamed fish with ginger, celery and pickled plums (Pla Neung Buay King Cheun Chai)

Bream is the best fish for this: it’s firm, full-flavoured, trim and delicious. However, your choice should be guided by whatever is freshest from the sea or the river – try snapper, barramundi, John Dory or silver perch. The fish you choose will affect the steaming time, though, so keep an eye on it. The sauce can be made a few hours in advance, if you like. The pickled plums you need are small, quite salty golden Asian plums that can be found in jars in most Chinese food shops.


  • 1 medium-sized whole bream, about 350 g, cleaned

  • 2 tablespoons shredded ginger

  • 3 stalks Asian celery or spring onions, cut into 3 cm lengths

  • good pinch of freshly ground white pepper

  • steamed rice, to serve

  • Sauce

  • 6 pickled plums

  • 3 tablespoons brine (from the pickled-plum jar)

  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

  • pinch of white sugar

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce

  • 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine


  • 1.

    First make the sauce. De-seed the plums, then tear them in half. Place in a bowl and combine with all the other sauce ingredients.

  • 2.

    Score the fish by making three or four diagonal cuts in each side, then place in a shallow bowl that will fit inside your steamer basket. Scatter over the ginger and the celery or spring onions, then pour over the prepared sauce. Place the fish in the steamer and steam over simmering water for 10–15 minutes or until just cooked – the scored flesh should be opaque right to the bone.

  • 3.

    Sprinkle with pepper and serve with steamed rice.

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