Soy and Ginger Steamed Fish

We saw this recipe in Bon Appetit and it looked really tasty. I made a few improvisations. For instance, I did not use sake. I could have, but once you open a bottle of sake, it has a finite shelf life and I am not a big fan of sake, so I would probably not drink it and it would go to waste. Instead I used dry sherry. We used our go-to fish, Atlantic Cod, which we buy frozen from Costco. It is so nice because each fillet comes individually packaged, so no freezer burn. I bought and used a package of “Gourmet Mushrooms,” Shiitake, Oyster, and Crimini, which were fine. I just cut them into smaller pieces. I had a devil of a time finding Napa cabbage. I had to go to our local food coop to find it. I did not want to make this with regular cabbage, it would have been too strong flavored and would not have cooked tender in 10 minutes. I was surprised to see how much the cabbage cooked down. The original recipe called for only half a head, but I think a whole head is the right amount if I make this again, so I changed the recipe to reflect that. I also made a special trip to the Asian market to get kombu, which is an ingredient used in dashi and other soup stocks. Do not rinse the kombu like the package says to. The white powder on the outside is where most of the flavor is. Kombu contains glutamic acid (the basis of monosodium glutamate, or MSG), which enhances flavor and tenderizes proteins.

If you make this it will seem like there is not enough liquid to make a substantial broth, but as it steams the cabbage exudes quite a bit of liquid so don’t worry. This is definitely a keeper and I will make it again. It is fast, easy and delicious.

Soy and Ginger Steamed Fish


  • 2 6 ounce fillets sturdy fish, salmon, black cod, arctic char etc.
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 4×3 inch piece kombu, dried (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. sake, or chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 head Napa cabbage, stems thinly sliced crosswise, leaves torn if large
  • 4 oz. mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, beech, and/or maitake, torn into pieces
  • 1 piece ginger (2″) peeled, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Cooked rice (for serving)


1. Slice fish into six pieces; season all over with salt.

2. Combine kombu (if using), sake, soy sauce, mirin, and 3/4 cup water in a Dutch oven with lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Layer cabbage stems, then leaves in pot. Scatter mushrooms and ginger over, then place fish over mushrooms. Cover pot and steam until fish is opaque and just cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

3. Drizzle with sesame oil and top with scallions. Serve in shallow bowls with broth spooned over and rice alongside.

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