This coconut steamed fish is one to save in the books. Think tender, flakey fish steamed ( / kind of poached) in a coconut milk broth with cilantro, tomatoes, and just a touch of heat. It is delicate while still packing a punch in flavor. This lovely seafood dish is a fantastic option to serve at a dinner party or for date night, and best part it it is a one-pot dish that comes together in under 30 minutes with minimal mess.
Juicy, Tender Steamed Fish
Confession, this isn’t a traditional method of steaming fish, in fact it does cook in contact with the steaming liquid. Think of this recipe in between a steam and a poach/braise, because we are also looking to make a super delicate, but flavorful broth. What’s the benefit of steaming fish? Perfectly cooked, delicate and flakey fish with no mess, no hassle, and no guesswork. Even if you happen to over cook it, the results are far better than if you overcooked pan fried or broiled fish. I am also making it incredibly easy on you and saying that there are no special tools or pots needed (no steamer rack necessary), just parchment paper and a braiser or a dutch oven.
What You’ll Need for Coconut Steamed Fish
- Cod – Cod is the preferred fish for this recipe, however any mild flavor firm white fish will work. Haddock, and Pollock are great substitutes, just keep in mind you are looking for thick cuts, approx. 1 inch.
- Coconut Milk – The sauce get’s the majority of it’s flavor from unsweetened coconut milk, so don’t skimp out and buy full fat. Your coconut milk needs to be thick and creamy, not watery. Each brand is a little different. I find that some brands have a thick and creamy top and then gets watery as you dig into the can. My favorite brand is Thai Kitchen, the entire can is the same thick consistency.
- Broth – Chicken or vegetable.
- Cherry Tomatoes – I love to use vine cherry tomatoes for this recipe. With that said they might be harder to find off season. Feel free to swap with grape tomatoes, since those are in the supermarket year round.
- Cilantro – This recipe calls for a half a bunch, I know so exact. I personally love to leave the leaves on the stems since a huge part of the flavor is locked in the stems. If you don’t want to do this thats fine, use a full bunch of leaves.
- Calabrian Chilis – One of my favorite ingredients to use. This dish has just a little bit of heat from crushed Calabrian chilis. If you are sensitive to heat don’t worry, the creaminess of the coconut milk cuts into the majority of the heat. Calabrian chilis have become increasingly more common in supermarkets however, Delallo and Trader Joes have fantastic options. Or it can be ordered from Amazon HERE.
- Onions– White or yellow.
- Garlic– Fresh only, and a lot of it.
- Olive Oil
- Heavy Bottom Braiser – My favorite pan to cook in is my Le Creuset braiser, however if you don’t have a similar enamel cast iron braiser this can also be made in a dutch oven.
- Parchment paper – Did you know that wax paper and parchment paper are 2 different things? I learned the hard way. Wax paper is NOT heat resistant and will melt and burn when exposed to heat. Since the parchment paper has direct contact with the pan you need it to wit stand heat, so avoid wax paper.
Step by Step for Coconut Steamed Fish
Cut + Season the Fish – If the fish isn’t precut, on a clean cutting board with sharp knife cut the fish into 6-7oz fillets (slightly bigger than a deck of cards). Place the fish, sliced garlic, and sliced onions in a large bowl. Coat with 2 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of Calabrian chilis, and a heavy pinch of salt, approx. 1/2 tsp. Toss to coat.
Assemble the Pot – The preferred vehicle for this dish is a heavy bottom cast iron braiser. Line the braiser with 2 layers of parchment and lay the fish, onions, and garlic in the pan. Layer in the tomatoes in between the pieces of fish. On the side add the chicken broth to the coconut milk and pop it in the microwave for just a few seconds until the coconut milk goes from a solid to a liquid. This mixture should not be hot. Pout the coconut milk + broth over the fish, top with cilantro a heavy pinch of salt, and cover.
Cook until Flakey – Cook the fish, fully covered for 15-20 minutes over low-medium heat. Check at the 15 minute point. The tops of the fish should be completely cooked and the fish should be flakey. Serve over rice (my everyday rice recipe is coming soon!) and enjoy!
Storage / Reheating
I am not a huge fan of reheating fish, however leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days MAX. If you have a lot of the broth left, you can reheat in a covered pot or pan on low heat. If not reheat in the microwave, checking on the temp in 1 minute intervals.
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Coconut Steamed Fish
- 2 1/2 lbs cod or another firm white fish, cut in 6-7 oz pieces
- 1 large white or yellow onion cut in half then sliced
- 10 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 tbsp crushed Calabrian chilis
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 10 oz cherry tomatoes
- 3/4 cup coconut milk full fat
- 1/4 cup broth chicken or vegetable
- 1/2 bunch cilantro optional to take the stems off
- Place the cut fish, sliced garlic, and sliced onions in a large bowl. Coat with 2 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of Calabrian chilis, and a heavy pinch of salt, approx. 1/2 tsp. Toss to coat.
- Line the pot or pan with 2 layers of parchment and lay the onions, garlic, and fish in the pan, making sure you are putting a good amount of the onions under the fish.
- Layer in the tomatoes in between the fillets.
- In a microwave safe bowl combine the coconut milk with the broth. Microwave it for 10-15 seconds until the coconut milk goes from a solid to a liquid, without it being hot. Pour the coconut broth over the fish, top with cilantro and 1/2 tsp of salt. Cover.
- Place the pot on the stove on low-medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until fish is cooked through and flakey. Serve over rice with broth.
- Depending on the size of pan you use the amount of coconut broth might be too much. Make sure you aren’t submerging the fish in the broth. I used a 5 qt braiser and prior to cooking about 1/4 of the fish was sitting in the broth. Cut back if you need to. When everything cooks there will be more liquid in the pan.
This recipe does not include the temperature of the oven!!!
Thats cause it doesn’t go in the oven it goes on the stove. Step 5: “Place the pot on the stove on low-medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes”
SOOOO good!! And super easy! One of my favorite things I have ever made!! Was a solid 10/10 and was a one pan recipe too so clean up was great.
Wowowow! I just finished making this, and I believe this may be one of my new favorite recipe. Quick, simple, delicate yet flavorful. Thank you for sharing! 🙂
This was SOOOO easy to make, I couldn’t believe how good it was! I was skeptical that a sprinkle of salt and a couple of ingredients could come out that good. Even my toddler ate it up over some white rice! 10/10