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Thai Deep-fried Whole Fish

Thai Deep-fried Whole Fish

By Jane Buck

This is without a doubt my favorite fish recipe. Even though it’s deep-fried, the fish is not at all oily or greasy, and the Thai flavors are delightfully fresh.

If you’d rather not deal with the bones, you can use fish fillets, but make sure to dredge the fillets lightly in flour before frying.


1 Whole Fish, cleaned, gutted, and scaled (I use lubina but any white fish is fine)

Oil for deep frying (I use Sunflower oil)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp ginger, minced

1 long red chili, finely chopped

1 tbsp Chinese rice wine

2 tbsps soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp palm sugar (or brown or white sugar)

2 green onions (scallions), finely sliced

3 tbsp rice vinegar

½ tsp white pepper, ground

Coriander (cilantro) to garnish

Bean sprouts to garnish


The Fish

  1. Rinse fish to remove any loose scales that may still be clinging to its body. Run your fingers over the skin to make sure all scales have been removed.

  2. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towel (make sure fish is dry or oil will spit)

  3. Make a few deep slits into the flesh of the fish on both sides using a sharp knife.

  4. Heat oil in wok to 1800C (3500F). Use enough oil to cover fish. If you haven’t cut off the head, use a wooden spoon to hold it under the oil for a few minutes to cook through.

  5. Deep fry the fish until it is golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel while you prepare the sauce.

The Sauce

  1. Place 1 tbsp of the deep-frying oil in a medium size saucepan and add garlic, ginger, chili, and onion. Fry until fragrant.

  2. Add rice wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and white pepper to the pan. Stir well and bring to the boil. As soon as it starts boiling, remove from the heat.

To Serve

  1. Place fried fish on to a serving platter and scatter with half the coriander and bean sprouts.

  2. Pour the sauce over the fish and garnish with the remaining coriander and bean sprouts.

  3. Serve immediately with steamed rice or a cucumber/tomato salad.

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