Steamed White Spotted Rabbitfish – 清蒸白肚鱼

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Fish is very commonly eaten during the Chinese New Year because fish in Chinese (鱼) sounds the same as excess in Chinese (余). What many people do not know is that there is a certain delicacy that can be found in our local wet markets. This special delicacy is the rabbit fish. Most of you would know rabbit fish as a common, affordable fish… except during the Lunar New Year season. For a few days in a year – and only for a few days – the rabbit fish sold in local markets are full of creamy roe or milt (fish semen).

It is believed that eating the rabbit fish when its stomach is full of roe or milt is a sign of prosperity. In particular, the Teochews in Singapore believe that eating rabbit fish (pek tor he in Teochew dialect) will ensure good luck for the coming year.

The best way to eat this delicacy during Lunar New Year is to steam it for about 3-4 minutes. You will know that it is cooked when the fish eyes turn white. Eat it with a mixture of lime, soy sauce, chilli and garlic (optional). Remember, don’t overcook it so that the roe is not hard but creamy. Last but not least, eat with the joy of looking forward to a fresh new start to the new year, where all things are possible.

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  • Servings: 4

  • Time: 10 minutes

  • Skill: Easy


  1. 5 White Spotted Rabbitfish (get those with roe or milt)

  2. 3 tbsp Hua Tiao wine

  3. 5g fine ginger strips

  4. Coriander for garnish


  1. 3 tbsp light soy sauce

  2. 1 tsp sesame oil

  3. 1 tbsp chopped garlic

  4. 1 tbsp chopped chillies

  5. Lime juice to taste (from Calamansi)


  1. Add Hua Tiao wine and ginger to rabbitfish.

  2. Steam for 6 to 8 minutes depending on size and steamer (Important not to overcook).

  3. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl

  4. Once the rabbitfish cooked serve with sauce. Garnish with coriander

  5. Take out the first bite of the Milt/Roe

  6. Follow by a mouthful of fish meat (this is to even out the taste of the Milt/Roe, (To prepare for the next mouth). Repeat the steps til the fish is completed eaten)

  7. Dip with sauce to preference