Steamed fish head with salted black beans

A few weeks back, my husband and I had lunch at Causeway Seafood Restaurant and we chanced upon a dimsum item that we had never seen there before — steamed fish head. As far as I could tell, the ingredients were very basic — salted (fermented) black beans ginger, garlic, chili and sesame seed oil. This is my version.

I used a whole head of talakitok (trevally); you can opt for some other fish so long as the head is large enough to contain a substantial amount of gelatinous skin which is what really makes this dish delicious.


  • 1 whole fish head (gills and fins cut off), about 800 grams, chopped into 8 to 10 portions
    1 tbsp. of grated garlic
    1 tbsp. of grated ginger
    2 chilis, finely chopped
    2 heaping tbsp. of fermented black beans
    1 tsp. of sesame seed oil
    1 leek stalk, thinly sliced
    salt, optional


  1. Place the fish head pieces in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with your hands, working the seasonings and spices into the fish flesh. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.

    Arrange the fish pieces in 2 to 3 shallow heatproof bowls. Top with leeks. Sprinkle with salt, if you like. Steam over briskly boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Serve hot by itself or with rice.

Cooking time (duration): 30 minutes excluding marinating time

Number of servings (yield): 4 (serves 2, if served as a main dish)