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Easy Thai Steamed Tilapia with Spicy Tamarind Sauce: Super quick week night meal that tastes like it's from a nice Thai restaurant full of flavors like tangy tamarind, spicy Thai chili pepper and melt in your mouth fish? Yes please! |

Easy Thai Steamed Fish with Spicy Tamarind Sauce

  • Total Time: 25 minutes


Super quick week night meal that tastes like it’s from a nice Thai restaurant, full of flavors like tangy tamarind, spicy Thai chili pepper and melt in your mouth fish? Yes please!


  • 46 tilapia filets, or other fish filets of choice

Tamarind Sauce for Fish

  • 1 tsp or so of cooking oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Thai chilies (more or less depending on spice preference)
  • 1 tbsp cilantro stems, minced
  • 1/4 c tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • handful of coarsely chopped cilantro, to sprinkle on top of fish


  1. Steam the fish in a steamer, or if you don’t have one you can use my splatter guard steamer method. If using that method, fill a saute pan with about three inches of water. Bring it to a boil.
  2. Place the splatter guard on top of the pot and spread out the fish filets. Make sure they aren’t overlapping. I can fit about three tilapia filets at a time, so I steam it in two batches.
  3. Place another pot or bowl on top of the splatter guard, so it covers the fish, but doesn’t touch it.
  4. Steam the fish for about 7-10 minutes, depending on the size of the fish, until it’s opaque, and flaky at its thickest part when poked with a fork.
  5. While the fish is steaming, make the Spicy Tamarind sauce.
  6. Add the cooking oil to a small saucepan over high heat until it’s warm.
  7. Add the shallot, garlic, chilies and cilantro stems, and cook until it starts to smell amazing, and the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the rest of the ingredients, and bring the sauce to a boil.
  9. Once its boiling, decrease the heat, and let it simmer until it’s thickened to your desired consistency, for me it takes around 2 minutes.
  10. Taste it, and add more tamarind if you want it more sour, more sugar if you want it sweeter, or more fish sauce if you want it more savory.
  11. Ladle the sauce over the fish, sprinkle cilantro on top, and serve with jasmine rice and a Thai veggie side dish!
  12. Enjoy!


Warning, it will taste very spicy on its own if you put in the three Thai chili peppers, but once you put it on the fish, and eat it with rice, it wont taste as spicy. So give the sauce a taste with some rice and fish before adjusting the spice level.

If you want it less spicy, add a tablespoon or so of more water, or a little more of the tamarind, fish sauce and sugar in equal parts to help tone it down.

Another cooking option instead of steaming the fish is to bake it in the oven at 350 degrees on a baking dish covered with aluminum foil for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the fish, until it’s opaque and flakes easily at its thickest part.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • Serving Size: 4-6