Chinese Steamed Salmon with Chilli and Star Anise Recipe from The Science of Spice

Steamed Salmon

Simple and easy to prepare, this delicately spiced Chinese supper is given a piquant twist with star anise and Scotch bonnet chilli, adding depth to the dish without overpowering the mild flavour of the fish. It works especially well with lightly smoked salmon, but if you prefer you can use unsmoked fillets.


4 lightly smoked salmon fillets, skinned
1⁄2 tsp ground white pepper
handful of star anise, broken up
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
1 Scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded and cut into around 12 strips
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli oil


1. Rub the salmon fillets with the white pepper. Arrange them in a single layer in a heatproof dish, placing one piece of star anise underneath and one piece on top of each fillet of fish.
2. Pour in the wine or sherry, scatter the ginger over the fish, and place a few strips of chilli on top of each salmon fillet.
3. Pour water to a depth of 2cm (3⁄4in) into a steamer or deep pan with a trivet in the bottom, and bring to a simmer.
4. Place the fish dish in the pan, cover the pan tightly with foil, and steam over a low–medium heat for 8–10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Add more hot water to the pan if necessary.
5. When the fish is cooked, take the dish from the pan and remove the star anise pieces. Pour the soy sauces over the fish and scatter with the spring onions.
6. Heat a wok or heavy pan over a high heat. Add the three oils and swirl them round the pan. When the oil is very hot and slightly smoking, remove from the heat and pour over the fish. Serve with steamed rice and stir-fried greens, such as pak choi.

Steamed salmon


The Science of Spice
The Science of Spice will help you understand the practical science behind the art of cooking with spices. If you’ve ever wondered what to do with that unloved jar of sumac, why some spices taste stronger than others, or how to make your own personal garam masala, this inspirational guide has all the answers.

Spice sets out the science behind the flavours and helps you choose, with greater confidence and intuition, how to use spices that perfectly complement each other. The Science of Spice is an indispensable kitchen companion that home cooks will turn to time and time again to learn and innovate.

The Science of Spice by Dr Stuart Farrimond. DK, £20. Out now.

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