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Sweet-and-sour fish is the delicious Asian dish you haven’t tried yet

If you’ve tried Asian sweet-and-sour sauce in all the usual dishes, then it’s time to try it with fresh whole fish and vegetables.

Sweet-and-sour sauce with veggies covering a whole fish may not be your average dish, but any Asian food lover will tell you to grab that fork and dig in. As the sauce’s name promises, it is sweet and sour, so expect a blend of these two flavors. The best way to enjoy this dish is with steamed white rice, because it subdues the contrasting flavors a bit (and also because that’s the way it’s eaten in Asia).

This is a very easy recipe to make, and anyone can do it. You don’t need a wok or any other special utensils. Just brown the fish in an ample-size saucepan, and put all the remaining ingredients in another pan to make the sauce. Pour the sauce onto the fish, and then your meal is ready. Easy, isn’t it?

Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Asian sweet-and-sour fish recipe

Serves 2-3

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes


  • 1 pound whole white fish (gilthead sea bream, branzino, sea bass, red snapper, halibut), scaled and gutted
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 1/8 cup ginger, julienned
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Spring onions, roughly chopped
  • Steamed white rice (for serving)


  1. Coat the fish with the flour well, and shake off the excess. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. In a large saucepan with olive oil over medium heat, cook the fish on both sides.
  3. While waiting for the fish to cook, prepare the sauce in another saucepan with a little olive oil over low-medium heat. Sauté the garlic for about a minute, then add the onions, carrots and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the water, vinegar, sugar and tomato paste, and mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, quickly mix the cornstarch with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauce you are cooking, and whisk lightly with a fork until you get rid of the clumps. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the vegetables and sauce. Cook until it thickens, cover, and set aside.
  5. When the fish is cooked, drain it of the excess oil, and place it on a serving plate. Pour the sweet-and-sour sauce with the vegetables on top. Garnish with the spring onions.
  6. Serve with steamed white rice.

More Asian whole fish recipes

Filipino fish sarciado
Asian meal: Fried whole fish, adobo water spinach and steamed rice
Ginger-pepper fish with coconut-leek rice

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