Steamed Lapu-Lapu with Mayonnaise

Steamed Lapu-Lapu with Mayonnaise is a traditional Christmas dish made with steamed grouper fish topped with mayonnaise and garnished with chopped eggs, sweet pickle relish, carrots, and bell peppers. It’s as pretty as it is tasty!

This steamed lapu-lapu with mayonnaise has been on my to-do list since last Christmas, but I couldn’t find fresh grouper big enough for the recipe until the holidays passed. Imagine my delight when I finally chanced upon ones that are upward 3 to 5 pounds in size at our neighborhood Asian mart.

They weren’t exactly cheap at 5.99 a pound. I almost choked, coughing up twenty-five dollars for my fish at the checkout counter. But, oh my, was every morsel worth the stiff price!

If you’re looking for an impressive Noche Buena centerpiece, this Lapu Lapu de la Reyna is it! This recipe is an easy way to level up your favorite fish into a holiday-worthy dish that’s sure to wow your guests.

The generous smothering of mayo adds a creamy flavor while the array of toppings complements the exquisite flavor of the steamed fish, and the festive color combination jazzes it up in Christmas-style.

Cooking directions

  • Clean, scale, and gut the fish, making sure all innards are removed as they can leave a malodor.
  •  Season inside out with salt, pepper, and tamarind powder. You can also use garlic powder for more flavor and dried red chili pepper flakes for a touch of heat.
  • Stuff the cavity with lemon wedges and green onions. Arrange the fish in a steamer rack and steam for about 20 to 25 minutes or until it easily flakes with a fork.
  • Carefully remove the fish from the steamer and transfer to a serving platter. Remove stuffing and allow the fish to cool completely.
  • Generously coat the whole top of the fish with mayonnaise and dress with toppings of choice.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • Grouper is traditionally used in pescao de mayonesa, but any large white-fleshed fish such as maya-maya and tilapia will also work.
  • I like to garnish the steamed fish with chopped egg whites, yolks, carrots, roasted red bell peppers, and sweet pickle relish, but chopped red onions, olives, and celery are also great options.
  • If you’d like to cut down on the calories, swap the mayonnaise with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

How to serve

  • This steamed fish with mayonnaise is a classic Filipino dish usually served for Christmas season, fiestas, and other special occasions. It makes a great addition to your Noche Buena along with this slow cooker ham with pineapple.
  • Enjoy the lapu-lapu chilled. Make sure to refrigerate the fish until completely cold before garnishing to prevent the mayo from melting.
  • For food safety and best quality, do not keep the prepared fish at room temperature for more than 2 hours.  Refrigerate leftovers in a storage container with a lid for up to 3 days.


  • 1 large grouper (lapu-lapu), scaled, cleaned, and gutted
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 black olive, pitted (for the eye).


    • Rinse fish under cold running water, removing all blood and innards. Pat dry.
    • Rub tamarind powder all over fish, inside and out. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for about 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Stuff cavity with lemon wedges and green onions.
    • Arrange the fish on a large flat steamer rack and steam fish for about 20 to 25 minutes or until it easily flakes with a fork.
    • While fish is steaming, prepare toppings.
  • Separate white part of eggs from yolk and finely chop.
  • Over open gas flames, roast bell pepper until skin is charred. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool. Under cold running water, peel the skin and discard. Remove stem and seeds and discard. Finely chop the flesh.
  • In a pot over medium heat, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add carrot and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until tender but crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and allow to cool. Dice.
  • Carefully remove fish from steamer and transfer onto a serving platter. Remove lemon and green onions inside fish and discard.
  • Allow to cool and refrigerate until completely cold.
  • Spread mayonnaise all over the top of part of fish. Arrange toppings over mayonnaise as desired. Place a pitted olive on the head of the fish for the “eye”.
  • Serve cold.

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