Nian Nian You Yu - Lucky Steamed Fish

Every Chinese family tends to serve at least one fish dish during Chinese New Year. "Nian Nian You Yu" means "there's some fish every year", but fish in Chinese (Yu) shares the same sound with the word 'extra' or 'leftover'; so the true meaning serving the dish really is: "there is some (fish) leftover from the previous year, every year". Therefore this dish must be kept some for the next meal. Here is a pretty simple-to-cook, steamed option.


  • 1 whole fresh fish of your choice, about 1kg
  • 30 wolfberries
  • 30g ginger, cut into fine strips
  • 2 tablespoons light soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  • Some chopped spring onion


  1. Thoroughly clean the fish and take away any internal organs. Lightly slice a few strokes on both sides of the fish. These cuts shouldn't be too deep.
  2. Get the steamer ready with boiling water. Place the fish in a dish and scatter the ginger strips and wolfberries onto the fish, then pour the soya sauce, oyster sauce and wine evenly over the fish.
  3. Place the fish in the steamer and steam on high for 15 minutes.
  4. Quick-fry the sliced onion in the vegetable oil till the onion is golden brown, pour them together over the cooked fish.
  5. Garnish with the parsley and spring onion.
  6. Sprinkle a pinch of ground pepper if desired.

Versatility Note:

  1. The fish has to be fresh and not thawed from frozen, because steamed fish will enhance all the taste and texture a fresh fish has as well as one that's not fresh.
  2. The ginger can be finely chopped or blended depending on individual preference.