Karl’s Spicy Asian Steamed Cod Skewers with Vegetables

This meal came about when my wife asked for steamed fish for dinner. The Noom recipe she suggested was called “steamed fish and veggies.” In previous years, I have done this as a whole Chinese steamed fish—something that I would need to make a special trip to the Asian market to assemble. To make it easier, she suggested that I do fish skewers, and I took the idea and ran with it.

Karl’s Spicy Asian Steamed Cod Skewers with Vegetables

Karl’s Spicy Asian Steamed Cod Skewers with Vegetables

Steamed Zucchini and Yellow Neck Squash

Steamed Zucchini and Yellow Neck Squash

Asian steamed fish takes some special equipment that many people might not have in their kitchens. A tiered steamer basket and a wok are extremely useful. While you might be able to use a Western steamer pot, these are usually much narrower and you would not be able to fit the bamboo skewers into them. Also, a wok is necessary, because the large Asian steamer baskets do not fit effectively onto most Western pots. While you may simply use a regular plate in the steamer basket, the juices and marinade slops over the low edges of many dining plates. I found some deep shallow Asian bowls that were perfect for this purpose.

Useful tools for steaming

Useful tools for steaming

Karl’s Spicy Asian Steamed Cod Skewers with Vegetables


1 lb. cod

Marinade, separate uses

2 Tbs. dark soy sauce
1 Tbs. shaoxing rice wine
2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp. crisp chili oil
2 tsp. sesame oil


Yellow neck squash

Bok choi
Snow peas

2 Tbs. fresh ginger
3 green onions

Also needed/useful to have:

Asian steamer (2 tier)
Bamboo skewers
2 wide shallow bowls


1. Cut the cod into 1 inch cubes and place them in a mixing bowl.

Tip: Try to keep all of the fish pieces about the same size. If there are thin spots in the filet, cut them twice as long and fold them over while skewering, so that they are about the same thickness as the thicker pieces.

2. In a second bowl, mix the marinade ingredients—soy sauce, ginger, chili oil, and sesame oil.

3. Pour half of the marinade over the fish and toss to coat.

4. Cover the bowl of fish with plastic wrap and set it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or up to two hours.

5. Cut the zucchini and yellow neck squash into one inch chunks and toss them with the remaining marinade.

Tip: You want to cut the squashes strait across into even cylinders—rather than into some fancier shapes. If the veggies have thick and thin edges the thin parts will over steam before the thick parts cook through.

6. Place a shallow bowl into each of the steamer baskets.

Note: I planned to serve rice with my steamed fish and this is a good time to start steaming your rice.

7. String the squash pieces on a bamboo skewer and lay them flat in one of the shallow bowls.

Tip: Alternate the zucchini and yellow neck on the sticks.

Note: The skewers should be long enough to catch the edges of the bowl and keep the squash up off the bottom of the bowl. This insured that the steam reaches all sides of the vegetables.

Zucchini and Yellow Neck Squash

Zucchini and Yellow Neck Squash

8. Coarsely chop the bok choi and de-string the snow peas.

9. Toss the vegetables in the marinade and spread them over the bottom of the second Asian bowl.

Tip: You cannot really fit all of the vegetables into a single steamer basket. The baskets are so shallow that you cannot stack huge piles of vegetables in them.

Note: The bok choi, peas, and fish also take much less time than the squash to steam, so it is nice to have two stacking steamer baskets. You start steaming the first basket and half way through put the second basket on top of the first to finish steaming them both together.

10. String the fish pieces on the skewers and lay them on top of the bok choi and peas.

Tip: Do not cram the fish tightly onto the skewers. Leave a bit of space between each piece.

Note: My one pound of fish turned into 4 skewers.

Cod Skewers with Vegetables

Cod Skewers with Vegetables

11. Slice the green onions on a steep diagonal and cut about two tablespoons of fresh ginger into matchsticks.

12. Scatter the green onions over the fish skewers and scatter half of the ginger matchsticks over the onions.

13. Scatter the rest of the fresh ginger over the squash.

Tip: Spoon any remaining marinade over the fish and squash.

14. Put about 2 inches of water in the wok and bring it to a boil.

15. Place the squash steamer basket in the wok—with the cover on—and steam for 6 minutes.

16. Remove the steamer cover and fit the fish steamer basket on top of the first basket.

17. Cover the second basket and continue steaming both baskets for another 6 minutes.

18. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Tip: Getting the hot plate out of the steamer basket can be a hazardous task. The risk of slopping hot sauces over your fingers is extremely high. I solved this problem by simply placing the entire steamer baskets—bowls and all—on the dining table. The basket acts as a trivet and you do not burn your fingers.

Note: The squash produced very little in the way of juices in the bottom of the bowl. The fish basket produced a fine sauce to spoon over your meal. The juices from the fish and bok choi mixed with the marinade to make a fine sauce.

1 Comment

Filed under Fish, Main Dishes

One response to “Karl’s Spicy Asian Steamed Cod Skewers with Vegetables

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