Chinese New Year Whole Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce

postheadericon Chinese New Year Whole Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce Recipe

Gung Hay Fat Choy!!   Chinese New Year is Monday, January 23rd and it’s the Year of the Dragon.  My mother, Leeann, was my hero.  A true inspiration on every level who taught me to cook, love life and cherish your family and friends.  Growing up in the Midwest, she did her best to teach us traditional Chinese customs.  The Chinese believe that everything you eat and everything you do on Chinese New Year will dictate how your entire year will unfold so it is a hugely significant holiday and time-honored tradition celebrating the sacredness of the family and representing a time of renewal.  Food plays a major role in the celebration and every dish prepared holds auspicious meaning and is believed to directly affect one’s fortune for the coming year.  For example, you must eat a whole fish as the word for fish in Chinese, “Yu,” is also the word for abundance.  I’ve included my mother’s famous Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce recipe for you today in her memory.  But first, here are a few traditional customs you can practice for your own Chinese New Year celebration to ensure good luck, happiness, prosperity and health in the coming year.  All the best to you and your family in the New Year, Katie.

Customary Chinese New Year Foods:

-Eggrolls – symbolizing prosperity as they’re shaped like gold bars
-Shrimp – served at celebratory occasions as the Chinese word for shrimp resembles laughter – “har”
-Whole Fish – symbolizing abundance
-Whole Chicken – symbolizing a favorable start and finish
-Black Mushrooms – symbolizing prosperity because of their coin-like shape

-Lotus Seed – signifies having many male offspring

Chinese New Year Customs:

-Refrain from using foul language or bad words on New Year’s Day or they will follow you throughout the year
-Washing hair is not allowed because you will wash away your good luck for the year
-Greeting friends with oranges or tangerines during the New Year will ensure that your friendships remain intact
-No sweeping on New Year’s Day as you’ll sweep all your good luck out the door
-Stepping into new shoes on New Year’s morning to start your year off on the right foot My personal favorite)
-Distribution of Red Envelopes (signifying Joy and Luck) filled with money to start the year with prosperity

Chinese New Year Whole Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce Recipe


  • 2 tbsp fermented black beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced gingerroot
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1⁄2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 to 3 lb whole sea bass or red snapper
  • 2 green onions (white and green parts), cut 2
  • into 2-inch pieces and finely
  • shredded lengthwise


  1. Soak beans in warm water for 15 minutes. Rinse beans with cold water to remove skins. Drain and transfer to a small bowl. Mash beans.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, salt, vegetable oil, soy sauce and sesame oil to beans and stir to combine.
  3. Rinse sea bass and pat dry with paper towels. Place fish on a heatproof plate that will fit in your steamer basket and make 3 crosswise slashes on each side. Rub the cavity and outside of the fish with bean mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  4. Place plate on a rack in steamer, cover and steam over boiling water until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes. Add more boiling water (if necessary). Garnish with green onions.


One Response to “Chinese New Year Whole Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce Recipe”

  • John Burkholder:

    Hi, Katie; I may be doomed to poor health, or poverty for not following all the suggestd practices, but I will at least enjoy a terrific looking recipe.

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