WE HAVE always celebrated Father’s Day at our favourite Chinese Restaurant, the Loon Fung in Edinburgh’s Warriston Crescent. Four generations of us all squeezed together round the biggest table – chopsticks at the ready. The revolving ‘lazy Susan’ is continuously replenished with delicious dim sum, exquisite spare-ribs and sticky dumplings, crispy Peking duck wrapped in steaming pancakes smeared with sweet jammy hoisin sauce and spring onions.

Not this year!

It’s a lot simpler and easier than you may think to recreate some of the simpler Chinese classics at home. My favourite Chinese cookery writer has always been Ken Hom. His recipes recreate the key flavours we are familiar with and for the most part you don’t need to buy lots of different ingredients. Soya sauce, hoisin sauce, black beans and sesame oil are easily available. Garlic, chillies and spring onions are in everybody’s fridge.

This recipe for steamed hake is adapted from Ken Hom’s first book, Chinese Cookery, which was £5.25 when I bought it in 1984.

Buy the freshest piece of thick white fish and remember to remove any bones. To steam I set up a saucepan with a third water, a sieve balanced on it and a plate nestled in the sieve to lay the fish.


500g thick flesh white fish such as hake or cod

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into fine matchsticks

4 spring onions, chopped into fine slices

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

1 tablespoon light soya sauce

1 tablespoon corn oil or groundnut oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Wash the fish in cold water and pat dry to get rid of any stale liquids. Rub with the sea salt, cover, and set aside in the fridge for half an hour. This flavours the fish, firms the flesh, and extracts excess water.

Set up the wok or pot with simmering water, the sieve, and the plate.

Rinse the fish and pat it dry. Place it on the plate.

Sprinkle with half of the ginger.

Cover with foil and steam gently for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

The fish is cooked when it has turned opaque and a skewer will slide easily into the thickest part. Be careful not to over-cook.

Carefully remove the fish onto a warmed serving plate.

Sprinkle with the remaining ginger and spring onions.

Splash with the light soya sauce, just enough to season it.

Warm the two oils in a small saucepan and sauté until the oil is flavoured and the garlic is just starting to colour. Pour over the fish.