Deep Fried Fish with a Sweet and Sour Spicy Sauce

Deep Fried Fish with a Sweet and Sour Spicy Sauce

Fish deep fried with its skin on is succulent, with a crisp skin and moist interior. This would be one of my favourites ways to cook whole fish. The sweet and sour sauce can be adjusted by leaving out or adding ingredients according to your taste (in this recipe I use a little Chinese Chilli Sauce but it makes no difference if you leave it out). You may wish to use pineapple pieces in the sauce and leave out the shitake mushrooms, its up to you. I find the easiest way to deep fry the fish is in a large wok, filled a little less than 3/4 the way up with corn or sunflower oil.

4 Portions
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes


Fish & Marinade:

  • 1kg-1.5kg red snapper or dorade or sea bass or bream or any other white fleshed fish, scaled and gutted but skin still on
  • 2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. shaoshing wine or dry sherry
  • pinch salt

To Cook

  • 1 tsp. five spice powder
  • 50-75g rice flour or corn flour
  • pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
  • oil for deep frying

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil or corn oil
  • 2 small shallots finely chopped
  • 8 dried shitake mushrooms, reconstituted in boiling water (15-30 minutes), stem trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 tsp. chili sauce, (dependent on taste)
  • 300ml water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp potato or corn flour + 2 tbsp water
  • 30g canned finely sliced bamboo shoots, sliced into slithers
  • 3 tbsp galangal or ginger, peeled and sliced into fine slithers
  • 2 tbsp spring onion sliced, diagonally finely


  1. Marinade: In a container mix together the ginger, garlic and wine or sherry. With a sharp knife make diagonal slits (3-4) across the flesh of the fish on either side. Rub the marinade into the fish and set it aside for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Sauce: In a hot saucepan add the oil, shallots and garlic, cook them stirring for 1 minute until softened. Stir in the mushrooms, rice wine vinegar, caster sugar, tomato sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce (optional) and water. Bring it to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for 15 minutes. Mix the flour and the water together then stir it into the sauce. Stir until the sauce thickens, then add the garlic, spring onion and ginger. Set aside until ready to serve.
  3. To Cook: Combine the flour, five spice and a little salt and pepper on a plate. Remove the fish from the marinade, place the fish in the flour and coat it well. Heat the oil so that it is 180°C-190°C (a cube of bread when dropped in it will float to the top and be golden brown in 20-30 seconds). Deep Fry the fish in the oil, on both sides so that it is crisp and golden (6-8 minutes). Remove the fish from the oil and drain it on kitchen paper.
  4. To Serve: Place the fish on a serving plate and pour over the hot sweet and sour sauce (if you need to reheat the sauce). Serve the fish with steamed or boiled rice, and stir fried vegetables (optional).