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Thursday 7 February 2013

Sluttishly Savoury: Sweet and Sour Fish

This weekend marks the start of the Chinese year of the snake and according to ancient Chinese wisdom having a snake in the house means that your family will never starve. Well, I'm born in the year of the snake and believe me, no-one leaves my home hungry!

I grew up in Hong Kong, and I still celebrate the new year by cooking up a bit of a Chinese feast washed down with plenty of Tsingtao beer. This is one of my absolute favourite dishes and is always on the menu. In Hong Kong we used a fish called grouper but over here I use any white fish with firm-ish flesh such as pollack, coley, haddock or even monkfish tail.

It's important to keep the sauce separate and use it as a dip or drizzle so your fish batter stays lovely and crispy, and if fish isn't your thing you could use chicken instead.

Sweet and Sour Fish (serves 2)
You'll need:

For the sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon tomato puree
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • pinch sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the fish:
  • 1 fillet of white fish, skin removed
  • 1 egg
  • 200ml cold sparkling water
  • 50g cornflour
  • 100g plain flour
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • sliced spring onion and red chilli to garnish
Make it!
  1. Firstly make the sauce. Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the garlic, ginger and chilli for about a minute then add the vinegar, sugar, tomato puree and continue to cook for another minute. Add the cornflour to the stock then add this to the pan along with the salt and pepper and increase the heat. Bring to the boil for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat.
  2. Prepare your fish simply by cutting it into bite sized chunks.
  3. To make your batter just beat the egg then add the water and flours, don't over mix, you want a few lumps in there, it should have the consistency of single cream.
  4. If using a deep fat fryer to cook your fish you will need to heat it to 180C, if like me you don't have one, just heat a saucepan of vegetable oil until a chunk of bread sizzles gently and browns.
  5. Dip your fish in the batter then very carefully place in the hot fat, it's best to fry in small batches so that the oil temperature doesn't drop too sharply or all your fish pieces get stuck together. 
  6. Cook your fish for about a minute. Cooking times will vary depending on your fish type and size of the pieces so test one and then do the rest. Once your fish pieces are cooked just drain them on kitchen towel before serving them with some lovely rice and dip them in the sauce.


  1. "I grew up in Hong Kong." I love when you add stuff like this into your recipes. I HAD NO IDEA.

    1. I moved there when I was 10, ate LOTS :)


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