steamed barramundi with chinese wine dressing

This recipe is a little bit of an effort but so worth it! After a recent trip to Melbourne and a visit to Coda where we sampled this dish – my fellow samplers and I agreed it was some of the best fish ever tasted and thanks to chef Matthew Lawdorn for the recipe – adjust quantities are per your requirements. Impress someone with this recipe on Valentines Day.






1 bottle Chinese cooking wine – 750ml

20 star anise

5 cardamon pod

3 pod all spice

250g palm sugar

3 large knobs ginger (julienned)

10 clove garlic – fine sliced

100 ml sesame oil

6 large red chili – sliced whole on angle

1 bunch spring onion – sliced

1 bunch coriander root and stem – fine chopped (leaves for garnish)

250ml light soy sauce

200ml rice wine vinegar

80ml lemon juice to taste


6 pcs of barramundi fillets – 200-250g per piece

2 bunch baby bok choy

2-3 cups steamed rice



Combine the soy, rice wine vinegar and the palm sugar together (in a 2lt minimum sized vessel) with half of the chopped spring onion and coriander root, stir until the palm sugar is mostly dissolved.  Place aside until needed.

Pour sesame oil into pot and allow to heat up.  Then add the spices (star anise, all spice, cardamon), garlic, ginger and chili all together.  Continue to cook these ingredients until they start to color and turn crispy. (It is important not to under cook these ingredients; you need to make sure you are constantly stirring them until they reach a caramelized state).

Once the ingredients have colored, pour in the entire bottle of Chinese cooking wine and allow to boil.  Once mix is boiling, flame the ingredients (that is to set the pot alight using an open flame, this causes the alcohol to burn off.  Alternatively you can boil the mixture for 3-5 minutes to allow the alcohol to boil off, although this will not impart the same flavor)

Once the mixture will no longer stay alight take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.  Then proceed to pour the mixture into the soy, vinegar mix and stir until all flavors have incorporated.

Allow mixture to cool of completely and add remaining spring onion and coriander root.  (This can also be added later just before serving if desired with the lemon juice for seasoning).

The balance of this dish is what is important so don’t be afraid to add or reduce some of the amounts to your desired taste, generally I will adjust the soy, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar components to reach a desired flavor balance.



Place the barramundi into a steamer when required adding a little bit of salt to season before steaming.  The barramundi should take about 7-8 minutes to cook through. (Cooking the fish on some lemon slices will impart a wonderful citrus flavor).

Simply steam or stir fry some baby bok choy to serve underneath the fish, add some  steamed rice with the greens to create a base for the fish to sit on.

The general rule for re-heating this sauce is not to re boil it but to gently warm it as needed and when ready to serve.  Make sure to stir the sauce so that the oil and liquid are mixed together.

Once the fish is cooked place on the steamed greens/and rice before spooning over the sauce, making sure to get all of the ingredients onto each of the fish

The sauce will keep for 5 days in an air tight container in the fridge.  Add more spring onion and coriander or chili if the sauce starts to lose its vibrant color.  Soy, sugar and juice can also be added to bring the flavor balance back to the dish.

This sauce is also great with roasted meats such as duck or chicken.