How to cook: Steamed fish head with salted black beans

How to cook: Steamed fish head with salted black beans

A few weeks back, my husband and I had lunch at Causeway Seafood Restaurant and we chanced upon a dimsum item that we had never seen there before — steamed fish head. As far as I could tell, the ingredients were very basic — salted (fermented) black beans ginger, garlic, chili and sesame seed oil. This is my version.

I used a whole head of talakitok (trevally); you can opt for some other fish so long as the head is large enough to contain a substantial amount of gelatinous skin which is what really makes this dish delicious.


  • 1 whole fish head (gills and fins cut off), about 800 grams, chopped into 8 to 10 portions
    1 tbsp. of grated garlic
    1 tbsp. of grated ginger
    2 chilis, finely chopped
    2 heaping tbsp. of fermented black beans
    1 tsp. of sesame seed oil
    1 leek stalk, thinly sliced
    salt, optional


  1. Place the fish head pieces in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with your hands, working the seasonings and spices into the fish flesh. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.

    Arrange the fish pieces in 2 to 3 shallow heatproof bowls. Top with leeks. Sprinkle with salt, if you like. Steam over briskly boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Serve hot by itself or with rice.

Cooking time (duration): 30 minutes excluding marinating time

Number of servings (yield): 4 (serves 2, if served as a main dish)

  • Lisa

    FISH HEADS???!!! Kill me … You and Sam are so the same. :)

    • Connie

      I should have shown the eyes in the photo HAHAHAHA

  • Bryan

    May i ask, why fish head? Fish heads are just like its bones. How can we eat it that way? Your post looks lovely though and so yummy. Thank you for posting!

    • Connie

      Just bones? No they’re not! Just common misconception. The head is the TASTIEST part of the fish.

      • JG

        Will salmon head work on this dish?

        • Connie

          Might. :)

    • jai manila

      Fish heads are very tasty guys. Nagaagawan kami nyan sa bahay espcially if the fish is naturally fleshy. I can’t wait to try this recipe because it has enough ingredients to balance the fishy taste and smell. Thank you for sharing this recipe Ms. Connie:)

  • Sunnysueph

    Though I haven’t tried it yet, am pretty sure the dish is so tasty because my fave is fish head. Thanks for being generous with what you learned. I enjoy reading your write-up here, and will be watching for more from you…I am your fan. (Susan of Cagayan de Oro City)

    • Michael Davis

      Fish heads? haven’t tried that yet. Kinda doubtful if it really taste that good? Thanks for sharing this to us, I might give this a try someday.

  • RobKSA

    Here in Saudi Arabia, the Hamour (grouper) head is a delicacy among Filipinos. I remember that the grouper head used to be given out free to anybody to the delight of the Filipinos. However, because of the ever growing number of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, the fish heads are now sold, of course, to Filipinos.

  • kaye

    i don’t really eat fish heads. will try this recipe using regular fish fillet instead. :)

  • mommy chef

    I love the fish head in Causeway, the best there is! I went to the grocery and found some creamy dory heads and thought of this dish instantly! Though I didn’t have a recipe, i just chanced upon your recipe and I tried it. It worked perfectly!

    It is just what I needed….thank you very much!