Steamed striped snakehead

Let’s take a break from the usual greasy, deep-fried foods for a change. Today in Bangkokhooker’s Kitchen of Manless we’re going to learn how to make a popular Thai favourite: fish steamed in lime juice or plaa neung manao (ปลานึ้งมะนาว). It is a dish that has the harmonious marriage of fresh lime, garlic, chilies, herbs and fish most commonly eaten by Thais during lunch dinner. This recipe works with most fish bust is popularly applied to barramundi and striped snakehead. In today’s variation of the recipe I’ve used a striped snakehead that I had caught from a recent fishing trip. This recipe works best for whole fish no bigger than 800 grams (any bigger and it wouldn’t fit in conventional plates or steamers). The head from the fish in the picture had to be removed in order to fit the steamer but traditionally it’s done with a whole fish.


  • 1 whole barramundi or striped snakehead, no bigger than 800 grams in size, cleaned and scored


For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped large bird chilies. (Deseed them if you can’t handle spicy)
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
For garnish:
  • 2 tablespoons of julienned red chilies
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • some cilantro, chopped green onions and kaffir lime leaves.


  1. Bring the water in a steamer to a boil. If you don’t have a steamer, you can use a large wok, place a small bowl or plate at the bottom and place some water at the bottom. This will keep the steaming bowl elevated above the water in order to steam the fish.
  2. Put the fish on a large bowl and with oven mitts, carefully place the whole thing into the steamer .
  3. Cover and let steam for 20 minutes.
  4. While the fish is steaming mix all the sauce ingredients together. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
  5. (This step is optional is you have a heated serving container) Just before that time is up, place the sauce into the microwave for 40 seconds.
  6. When 20 minutes are up, carefully remove fish from the steamer and place onto a large clean serving plate/bowl. If you have one of those metallic fish-shaped heated serving containers use that instead.
  7.  Immediately pour the sauce onto the fish while it is still hot.
  8. Apply garnish and serve.
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4 Responses to Fish Steamed In Lime Juice Recipe: A Traditional Thai Dish

  1. KevinL says:

    Looks mouth watering Oz! Definitely gonna try this dish but first I need to get myself a snakehead or a barramundi!

  2. Lee says:

    Hi, I love your steamed snakehead in lime juice. Looks simply delicious.
    May I have your consent copy your recipe?
    Thank you in anticipation.
    Wishing you good fishing.
    Best regards.

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