Fresh fish have bright, clear eyes and red gills. It should have a mild smell – a strong fishy smell means the fish has been sitting out for too long.
Still, even the freshest fish will have a slight fishy odour. To remove the odour, douse the fish in rice wine before cooking, and use generous amounts of garlic and ginger. Or instead, a dash of lime or lemon as a fish “cleanse” during steaming.
Rinse fish well. Combine soy sauce, salt, sugar and water into a small bowl and mix well.
Fill wok or steamer with an inch of water and bring to boil. Place fish on a plate. If using whole fish, prop the fish up by resting it on a wooden chopstick or skewer, placed horizontally on the plate. This is to prevent the fish from sticking to the plate. Turn the heat down so the water simmers. Cover the wok.
Steam for 10 minutes, until fish is easily sliced to the bottom. Turn off heat.
Remove the plate from steamer or wok and drain water from the plate. Spread the cilantro and a third of the spring onion on the fish.
Heat a small saucepan to medium to high heat. Add oil, then brown the ginger in the pan.
When the mixture sizzles, add soy sauce, sugar, salt and water mixture. Mix well and cook for 30 seconds. Take it off the heat and spoon the mixture over the fish. Serve immediately with coriander and scallions. Garnish with red chilli.