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Thai Steamed Fish Recipe With Lime and Garlic

Thai steamed fish with lime and garlic topped with cilantro and coriander.

This Thai steamed fish recipe with lime and garlic is loaded with zesty flavors and fresh herbs like coriander and celery. It's the perfect blend of citrusy, a bit spicy, and a whole lot garlicky. It's a no fuss Thai dinner that's as refreshing as it is easy to whip up.

Thai steamed fish with lime and garlic topped with cilantro and coriander.

For more Thai fish recipes, check out my popular Thai crispy fish with tamarind sauce and this irresistible Thai red curry fish.

Thai steamed fish with lime and garlic

This Thai lime garlic steamed fish recipe is both easy and full of flavor. I went with tilapia since it's like a sponge for all that tangy lime and umami fish sauce.

It's perfect for those busy weeknights when you want something healthy but don't want to fuss too much in the kitchen. The sauce is a zesty mix of fresh lime juice sweetened up with a bit of palm sugar – it's sweet, it's sour, it's totally irresistible

Close-up of Thai lime garlic steamed fish topped with fresh herbs and a spicy sauce.

I use a whole head of garlic, which means your kitchen's going to smell amazing. Thai people love a bit of heat, so we throw in a bunch of chilies to make sure every bite has a little spice.

To top it all off, I give it a topping of fresh coriander and crunchy celery. You can totally add others as well, like green onions or even mint.

A Thai woman presenting a dish with Thai fish with lime and garlic.

Looking for more authentic Thai recipes?

Best type of fish

Thai steamed fish with lime and garlic can be made with any flaky white fish. I like to use tilapia since it's always available at the local street food market in my rural village. It's really cheap in Thailand, too.

Don't be afraid to use other fish though, red snapper, cod, barramundi, or grouper are all great choices.

Thai-style steamed fish is all about simple Thai cooking that's doable for every home cook.

A quick dinner big on flavor? Yes please!

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

A tilapia fish on top of a banana leaf, celery and coriander on a bamboo cup, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chilies, coriander root, and palm sugar in clay pots on top of a bamboo serving tray with flowers.
  • Fish - The star of the show - fresh tilapia, but feel free to sub with any white flesh fish of your preference.
  • Palm sugar - Unmissable here is the caramel-like sweetness from palm sugar.
  • Fish sauce - Fish sauce adds umami and a slightly salty flavor.
  • Garlic - Pungent garlic completes this meal, use as much as 1 head of garlic.
  • Lime - A key ingredient is fresh lime juice, the sour flavor is really present in this fish recipe.
  • Coriander, celery - After steaming the fish, it's topped with fresh coriander and celery.
  • Lemongrass - We use lemongrass to give the fish a nice aromatic flavor.
  • Chilies - I like to use spicy Thai chilies for a fiery kick of heat. If you can't handle spicy food, feel free to use mild chilies like jalapeños or others.

Most ingredients are available at Asian grocery stores.

How to make spicy Thai fish

Prepare the fish

Make sure the fish is cleaned and gutted. Create 3 to 4 diagonal incisions on each side of the fish to allow even cooking. Fill the fish's abdominal with lemongrass.

Steam the fish

Steam the fish for 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust the time based on the fish's size.

Make the sauce

Pound garlic, coriander root, and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Add palm sugar, fish sauce, fresh lime juice and mix into 1 sauce.

Serve

After steaming, transfer the steamed fish to a serving dish and top with the sauce. Garnish with coriander and celery. Serve immediately.

Tips for the best steamed fish

  • You can use fish fillet as well. Not so fond of steaming a whole fish? Use a fish fillet instead.
  • Infuse with aromatics. Stuff the cavity of the fish with your favorite aromatics like lemongrass, ginger, or even fresh herbs.
  • Use fresh ingredients. Try getting your fish at a market. The fresher the fish, the better the taste.
  • Choose the right fish. Choose a fresh, firm-fleshed fish like sea baas, tilapia, or halibut.
  • Check for doneness. The fish is done when its flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Check near the backbone, which is the last part to cook.

Kitchen tools

  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Tongs or spatula
  • Heatproof plate: The fish is placed on the plate during steaming. Alternatively, you can use a banana leaf.
  • Steaming pot

How to serve

After steaming the fish, transfer it to a serving dish. Top it with the sauce, sprinkle freshly chopped herbs on top of the fish, and finish with thin slices of lime.

Serve with white rice as a main-dish.

How to store and reheat

Leftovers of your Thai fish with lime and garlic can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let them cool down before transferring them to an airtight container. Ideally, you want to store any leftover sauce and fish in separate airtight containers.

Reheating instructions: Reheat in a pan until heated through.

What to serve with Thai steamed fish?

Thai steamed fish can be served with jasmine rice or sticky rice. Additionally, a side of steamed or stir-fried vegetables complements the flavors of the fish. Full a complete Thai meal, serve with a Thai salad, a soup, or appetizers.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, all ingredients are naturally gluten-free. However, make sure to always double-check the labelling of your ingredients.

How can I tell when the fish is cooked?

The fish is done when its flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. The internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C) when checked with a food thermometer.

More Thai fish recipes you'll love

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Ratings 5 from 3 votes
Cooking Method
Cuisine
Courses
Time
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 15 min Total Time: 25 mins
Servings 3
Calories 499
Description

Perfectly steamed fish, topped with a refreshing sauce of garlic, lime juice, and chilies.

Ingredients
  • 35 ounces fish (tilapia)
  • 5.5 tablespoons lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar (chop to measure)
  • 10 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 10 chilies (Thai chilies, to taste)
  • 1/3 cup coriander (chopped)
  • 2 coriander root
  • 1/3 cup celery (chopped)
  • 2 lemongrass (cut into 2 or 3 pieces)
Instructions
  1. Prepare the fish

    Make sure the fish is cleaned and gutted. Create 3 to 4 diagonal incisions on each side of the fish to allow even cooking. Fill the fish’s abdominal with lemongrass.

  2. Steam the fish

    Steam the fish for 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust the time based on the fish’s size.

  3. Make the sauce

    Pound garlic, coriander root, and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Add palm sugar, fish sauce, fresh lime juice and mix into 1 sauce.

  4. Serve

    After steaming, transfer the steamed fish to a serving dish and top with the sauce. Garnish with coriander and celery. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 3


Amount Per Serving
Calories 499kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g10%
Saturated Fat 1.3g7%
Total Carbohydrate 19.1g7%
Dietary Fiber 2.8g12%
Sugars 6.2g
Protein 70g140%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note
  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Thai chilies can be spicy, adjust the amount of chilies to your heat tolerance.
  • Not so fond of steaming a whole fish? Use fish fillet instead.
  • Serve with jasmine rice.

Keywords: Thai lime garlic steamed fish recipe, Thai steamed fish recipe, steamed fish with garlic and lime

Thank you so much for trying my recipe!