Steamed fish with wan yee, lily flowers and red dates

 recipe by Hannah Chung (www.cookeatdream.blogspot.com)

This recipe uses 3 main traditional Chinese ingredients with unique health benefits. Eaten together with fish, they can replenish the blood and reduce cholesterol. Here is a quick breakdown of the ingredients:

Wan yee is a type of black fungus, full of vitamins and low in calories. It’s flavourless but great for absorbing other flavours and has a soft yet crunchy texture. Lily flowers can relieve coughs and has a slightly sweet, earthy taste. Red dates are jam packed with vitamins, iron and calcium, all of which nourish the blood. They’re sweet and have a complex flavour, which can overpower at times so use sparingly. All of these ingredients are available at local Asian stores where you will find them in the dried section.

Any white fish can be used for this recipe and it can be filleted too, but using a whole sea bass is more traditional and gives the dish extra flavour.

Serves: 2-4


1 whole sea bass approx. 350g (cleaned and gutted)

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (sliced)

small handful dried wan yee

8-10 dried lily flowers

3-4 dried red dates

1 spring onion cut into large pieces

1 teaspoon soy sauce

pinch of sugar

1/4 teaspoon cornflour

1 teaspoon oil (any flavourless oil)


Soak all the dried ingredients in the same bowl with warm water for around 15 minutes. Once soft, deseed the red dates and tie individual knots on the lily flowers, as this will create a better texture. Drain them and add the soy sauce, sugar, cornflour and oil. Place the fish on a plate ready for steaming and lay the ginger slices over and inside the fish. Add all the marinated ingredients on top and finish with the spring onion. You can steam the fish in a wok full of boiling water with a steamer stand or alternatively use a steamer. Once the water is at boiling point, steam the fish for 7-10 minutes, depending on the size. It’s ready once the meat has turned white and flaky. Splash a little extra soy sauce over the fish just before serving.

Rainbow tofu

This is an incredibly easy and colourful way to serve tofu. You can substitute the vegetables depending on what you have available.

Serves: 2-4


2 blocks of silken tofu (sliced around 5cm thick)

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

bunch of green beans

1 carrot

2 spring onions (finely chopped)

1 clove garlic

1 red chilli

1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)

1 teaspoon oyster sauce

pinch sugar

1 teaspoon cornflour

handful of coriander


Pre-heat your oven to 180°C and dice all the vegetables into small pieces to roughly the same size. Fry the garlic, chilli and the white parts of the spring onions in a frying pan with a little oil. Add the carrots and fry for a few minutes before adding the rest of the vegetables. Add the Shaoxing wine and a tablespoon of water and cook for a further 5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the cornflour with about 2 tablespoons of cold water with the oyster sauce and sugar. Pour this in the frying pan and stir until you get a silky sauce. Place the sliced tofu on a slightly greased baking tray and spoon the vegetables on top. Bake for around 10 minutes until the tofu is golden brown. Serve with the green parts of the spring onions and some freshly chopped coriander.

A tip on making the perfect rice

A general rule for the amount of rice to use is around a handful and a half of rice per person. Around 1 tea-mug-ful of rice will be enough for 2 people. Put your rice in a saucepan and wash the excess starch out of it. Get your hands right in rub the rice clean and then run it through water until the water runs clear. Drain the excess water but don’t bother using a colander here; just tilt most of the water out of the pan.

The ratio of water is always: 1 part rice to 2 parts water but if you’re not sure, use the finger test. The level of water over the rice should just come up to the first joint of your finger. Put the saucepan on a medium heat until it boils, then turn the heat right down and gently cook the rice with the lid on for about 10-15 minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat and then let it sit with the lid still on for a further10-15 minutes so that it steams. The result should be light, fluffy and slightly sticky rice.