Happy Donabe Life

Chinese-Style Steamed Fish

Sakana no Chuka-Mushi

 This colorful treat is an easy one-pot dish with a lot of flavors. I like to use halibut for the rich tender texture for this dish, but you can also make it with other kinds of fish such as black cod, sea bass, salmon, etc. The fish is topped on the top parts of green onions and sprinkled with garlic slices to steam for beautiful aromas. The fish is also dusted with some katakuriko (potato starch) so this way the fish can absorb more flavors and retains moisture better, but you can cook without katakuriko, too. The sizzling sound and aroma of the smoking sesame oil when it’s poured over the fish stimulate your appetite so much. With the umami-rich sauce and aromatic toppings, this dish can become a healthy and satisfying main course.

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Mushi Nabe (large) and Multi-purpose Bowl


3 - 4




  • 1 lb (450 g) halibut fillet, cut into 1.5 – 2″ (4 – 5 cm) cubes
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon katakuriko (potato starch), optional
  • 5 – 6 green onions, separate the top half green part from the bottom (mostly white) part. Bottom part very finely julienned
  • 1 clove large garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 oz (60 g) ginger, very finely julienned
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark roast sesame oil
  • 1 small carrot, julienned
  • Some chopped cilantro


  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine the fish with the sake and the salt in a bowl. Mix well. Cover with plastic and set aside for 15 – 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, get Mushi Nabe ready according to the basic steaming instructions.
  4. Pat dry the fish and lightly dust all sides with the katakuriko by using a tea strainer. Spread the green top parts of the green onions in a shallow bowl for steaming and place the fish in an even layer over the green onion. Sprinkle the sliced garlic over the fish.
  5. Place the bowl on the steam grate, cover with lid, and steam the fish over medium-high heat for 5 – 7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Turn off the heat. Uncover and top the fish with the julienned green onions and ginger.
  6. Heat the sesame oil in a small pan over high heat. As soon as it starts smoking (1 -2 minutes), remove from the heat, and pour over the toppings on the fish. The sizzling hot oil might splash, so please be careful.
  7. Garlish with the carrot and cilantro. Pour the sauce, and serve immediately. (You can discard the green onion tops under the fish as they are only for the aromas.)

Step by step photos: I always love to mound a generous amount of very finely julienned green onion and ginger after the fish is steamed. They are so tasty with the fish after the sizzling oil and sauce are poured!


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